Friday, October 30, 2009

NFL's Larry Johnson's Use of Gay Slur Shines Light on How Gay People are Treated in NFL

Larry Johnson's (pictured at right) use of a gay slur with reporters on Monday has had a far bigger impact than the disgruntled Chiefs running back likely intended. His father scolded him. A gay-advocacy group condemned him. And the Chiefs suspended him. And his words shined light on what former NFL player Esera Tuaolo (pictured at left) says is a culture that does not welcome gay players in NFL locker rooms.
USA Today reports:
Former NFL player Esera Tuaolo, a defensive lineman who played in the league from 1991-99 and revealed he was gay after retiring, told the Kansas City Star there is a community of gay players in the NFL who are unable to reveal their sexuality because of what he says is a culture of intolerance in NFL locker rooms.

"It would be amazing if all these gay athletes would come out," Tuaolo told the Star, "and they would see how many athletes who are gay are premier players. But we live in a society that doesn't accept us for who we are. We live in a society that views the word 'gay' or gay person as weak." He told the paper that more than 10 of the league's nearly 1,700 players are gay and that he converses with many of them. "I'm not going to tell you how many," he told the Star. "The guys who are in contact with me … and there are others who are anonymous."

Tuaolo said what makes Johnson's remarks so unacceptable is that they breed a culture that turns a players' sexuality into a negative connotation. "What is also crippling to an athlete is hearing slurs like that thrown around like it's just the thing to do. When you use (gay slurs) and you use it in a negative term, it's the same as calling a woman a (expletive). Or the same as calling an African-American the (expletive). It's demeaning to another human being. And it's not right." READ MORE

NFL's Larry Johnson's agent claims he didn't know gay slur was offensive!
USA Today reports:
Peter Schaffer, the agent for suspended Chiefs running back Larry Johnson, told TMZ that he didn't realize the gay slur used by Johnson in the team's locker room on Monday was unacceptable. Said Schaffer to TMZ:

"We know the n-word is unacceptable, that's not disputable -- but (expletive)? I'm learning that there's a segment of our society that finds it offensive and that it should not be used. I didn't realize that, but I do know now..."
Schaffer said Thursday he is working on both an appeal of Johnson's suspension and a settlement with the Chiefs. READ MORE