Report: Gay NFL player may come out soon -

Report: Gay NFL player may come out soon

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By Brendan Marks By Brendan Marks

Scott Fujita has seen enough. He's tired of the bigotry. He wants it to end. He's not alone.

Players like Fujita, along with a coalition of current and former NFL players, and NFL team owners, a music mogul and others, are working diligently to create a safe atmosphere for the day history will happen: when an openly gay man will be a member of an NFL club. People like Fujita -- brave people -- are attempting to make the issue a non-issue for when that day comes.

And there are serious indications that day may come sooner than later. While I've long believed I would not see an openly gay NFL player for decades, that might be wrong.

Based on interviews over the past several weeks with current and former players, I'm told that a current gay NFL player is strongly considering coming out publicly within the next few months -- and after doing so, the player would attempt to continue his career.

I'm told this player feels the time is now for someone to take this step -- despite homophobic remarks from San Francisco 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver and the controversy arising recently at the Indianapolis Scouting combine, when prospects were asked questions about their sexuality.

This player's true concern, I'm told, is not the reaction inside an NFL locker room but outside of it. The player fears he will suffer serious harm from homophobic fans, and that is the only thing preventing him from coming out. My sources will not say who this alleged player is.

There has never been an active openly gay player in a major American team sport, but the information I've gathered on the player in question comes from several current and former players.

"I honestly think the players of the NFL have been ready for an openly gay player for quite some time now," said Fujita, a free agent linebacker who has played for the Chiefs, Cowboys, Saints and Browns. "Trust me, the coming out of a player would create much bigger waves outside the locker room than inside. The way I've seen the conversation around LGBT issues evolve, especially in the past few years, has been encouraging. Guys are more accepting than they used to be. Even those who raise personal objections to homosexuality, some of whom are good friends of mine, would still be able to coexist and accept a gay teammate."

Over the past few days there's been a flurry of activity on the issue including a brief filed by Fujita and others in support of a marriage equality case before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear oral arguments on California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. Opponents of the proposition say it discriminates against gay men and women.

To Fujita and others, this is an important case that could have ramifications in the NFL. If the Supreme Court overturns Proposition 8, it would send yet another signal to closeted gay NFL players that the environment is changing for the better.

The brief's supporters are impressive. They include: Giants co-owner Steve Tisch; Demaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA; Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo; Marie Tillman, co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation; Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records; former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans; Browns center Alex Mack; and NFL players Connor Barwin, D'Qwell Jackson, Tom Crabtree, Eric Winston and Scott Shanle, among others.

There is a feeling among people who have fought this battle for years that a corner is about to be turned. I don't know. While my faith in humanity remains tepid, it's balanced by my faith in people like Fujita.

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