Arians: Gay player’s biggest hurdle would be fans, not teammates

By Ross Jones

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians doesn’t think NFL locker rooms would have trouble accepting an openly gay player. The trouble that he does foresee stems from the NFL’s crazed fans.

“I don’t think the locker room would have any problem with it,” Arians told in a telephone interview Wednesday. “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.”

Arians, who is making the media rounds before the inaugural Bruce Arians Family Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic, was adamant that his team would be more than inviting if and when a gay player comes out.

“As a coach, and I can probably speak for our players, too, I don’t think anybody would have any problem with it.”

It’s an interesting suggestion that doesn’t get a ton of attention. Opposing teams’ fans are harsh. And at what point does rooting against the opposing team become discrimination?

The NFL league has anticipated such events and addressed this issue in April should a player come out.

“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”, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. “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.”

The topic of equality in sports has been a hot-button item. The NFLPA recently launched a T-shirt campaign that would take all net proceeds from sales and donate them to Athlete Ally, a foundation that battles homophobia.