Don’t Ask, Don’t Te’o

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This is the time of year that all aspiring NFL hopefuls work their whole collegiate lives for, a place to showcase their talents and generate enough buzz to fulfill their dream, the NFL combine. The combine is a Mecca of sorts for coaches, scouts, analysts and fans alike to see who the next rising star is. Whose stock is going to either rise or fall? Which player taken will be the next future Hall of Famer? Who is going to be overpaid? Who will be undervalued? All of these questions are sure to be answered in the lead up to the draft. This is the allure of the NFL offseason! In addition to vertical jump calculations, cone drill speeds and 40-yard dash times, the combine is also a forum for teams to really get to know the players a tad deeper than just their physical attributes. There has been a heightened awareness and added value to players with “high character”. Players like Pacman Jones, Maurice Clarrett, Tyronn Mathieu have really helped propagate the aforementioned paradigm of NFL teams. I do understand that you must “sample the merchandise” before investing millions of dollars in salary for a player but everyone has a past and no one is perfect, we all have a story to tell. It was rumored that one Dallas Cowboys official was so bold as to inquire whether or not Dez Bryant’s mother was at one time, a prostitute. Not only is that an irrelevant question, it’s very offensive. Is nothing sacred anymore? Obviously not! There has to be a line when it comes to the questions asked in these combine interviews. The latest word out of the combine is that teams are asking players about their sexual preference. Is that an appropriate question to be asked in that forum? The answer is a resounding N-O!

With the media attention drawn to the bizarre events of the Manti Te’o catfish incident and having his own sexual preference being put under scrutiny, teams are now looking at him as damaged goods without even having played a single snap on a NFL field. Teams are citing his lack of maturity to sleight him and tarnish his draft stock. While I will admit I still have some lingering questions about the situation and how he decided to handle it, I don’t think that it was necessarily acceptable to question his sexuality. Te’o has stated that indeed he is heterosexual, however, if that turns out to be false and it comes out that he is gay, the fact remains that it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I took more exception to the fact that once he learned that his “soulmate” was actually a hoax he continued to have people believe the story was indeed true. Something like that would understandably rub people the wrong way but that shouldn’t arise suspicion of him being gay, nor should it.

My point simply, is this: IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER WHO A PERSON LOVES. PERIOD. All a person should really care about as a teammate, coworker, supervisor, owner, et al is that everyone is on the same page and producing the way that they should. A person’s personal life, is just that, personal. Tremendous strides have been made in manner of sexual orientation equality and acceptance as a society, however, the realm of professional sports is still lacking. Hopefully one day this barrier will be broken, stranger things have happened. Just think, at one point people didn’t think that professional sports would be integrated. Only time will tell…

 

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