Cardinals coach unsure how fans would react to out player

By : Staff Report
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During an interview with Fox Sports on June 26, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told FoxSports.com that he’s unsure how football plans would react to an openly gay player. He did say, however, that he thinks NFL players and coaches would be accepting.

“I don’t think the locker room would have any problem with it,” Arians said in a telephone interview with the website. “The problem would be with the fans. I think especially opposing fans. Some of the things that are said are over the top and out of control that I can imagine what some fans would say to an openly gay player.”

The NFL has taken strides in the past few years to curb homophobia in the sport, and many players have even stepped forward in support of marriage equality. In April of this year, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the NFL would monitor inappropriate fan reaction to any openly gay player in the league.

“Our league and team security people would be ready to monitor any kind of public reaction that might not be appropriate, including scrubbing social media,” Aiello told USA Today. “We would assist the player in dealing with any adverse public reaction of any type, if there is any. Hopefully there wouldn’t be and it would be a non-issue, which it should be.”

Arians has a supporter in former NBA star Charles Barkley, who appeared on the “The Mike Missanelli Show” on 97.5 The Fanatic Philadelphia.

“I 100% agree with Bruce Arians. I’m glad he had the courage to say that because a lot of coaches kiss up to the people but I respect it, I gotta thank him for when I get back to [Arizona],” Barkley said.

For the first time, the NFL Rookie Symposium will include speakers on the issue of sexual orientation, the league’s chief human resources officer, Robert Gulliver, told ESPNNewYork.com on June 25.

Ambassadors – former NFL players – will speak about the possibility of having a gay teammate and how to talk about these issues publicly, Gulliver said.

Gulliver said the league doesn’t expect one of its players to be on the verge of coming out, but in the wake of NBA player Jason Collins’ decision to come out to Sports Illustrated in April, sports leagues are preparing players with the goal of having a harassment-free workplace.

“I would not be surprised if there are more players coming out,” Gulliver said.

As part of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, the NFL has a formal policy against harassment when it comes to a player’s sexual orientation.

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