The Te’o Effect :: Is the NFL Asking Future Players If They’re Gay?
According to a report from ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio, football teams wanted to know if Manti Te’o, the Notre Dame football player that made international headlines earlier this year for being involved in the infamous girlfriend hoax, was gay. Now iIt looks like some officials have allegedly asked potential pro football players the same question during the recent NFL Scouting Combine (2/23-2/26), USA Today reports.
The NFL Players Association claims to be aware that some athletes have been asked if they are gay during interviews. One in particular, Colorado tight end Nick Kasa, alleges he was asked if he is straight.
The union wants the league to investigate if the incident occurred and if so, to what extent.
"I know that the NFL agrees that these types of questions violate the law, our CBA and player rights," NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports. "I hope that they will seek out information as to what teams have engaged in this type of discrimination and we should then discuss appropriate discipline."
NFLPA’s president Domonique Foxworth told Outsports that asking questions about one’s sexual orientation is not acceptable.
"It’s not right and it’s not legal, based on how I understand the CBA. Conversations have been had about these sorts of [questions]," Foxworth said.
Officials from the NFL also agree with the investigation. The league’s spokesman Greg Aiello told USA Today Sports, "Like all employers, our teams are expected to follow applicable federal, state and local employment laws. It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process. In addition, there are specific protections in our collective bargaining agreement with the players that prohibit discrimination against any player, including on the basis of sexual orientation.
"We will look into the report on the questioning of Nick Kasa at the scouting combine," he continued. "Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline."
Kasa said in a recent interview that he was asked if he was straight during an interview at the combine.
"They ask you like, ’Do you have a girlfriend? Are you married? Do you like girls?’ " Kasa said. "Those kinds of things, and you know it was just kind of weird. But they would ask you with a straight face, and it’s a pretty weird experience altogether."
But the National Football Scouting president, Jeff Foster, who runs the combine, said no team, player or agent has told him that an inappropriate question was asked during the event’s private interview sessions, which are conducted by the team. The combine’s staff schedules videotaped 10-minute interviews, which are sent to teams. Foster says the questions asked, "have all been reviewed by legal and human resources to make sure they’re in compliance."
"The 32 NFL teams are professional organizations. At this point, I certainly don’t feel we need to remind them they need to act as such. I’ve got no sense of that," Foster said. "I think it’s probably like a lot of things that come out of the combine - more rumor and innuendo than fact. Now, if we found out there was in fact something that was inappropriate, we would address that individually to make sure we understand what’s happening and make sure we were all on the same page. But at this point, we don’t see that as being necessary."
In January Te’o, a linebacker for Notre Dame college, was thrown into the media spotlight after he told press his girlfriend and grandmother died on the same day. It was later discovered that the athlete’s girlfriend didn’t really exist and that Ronaiah Tuisasosopo, was behind the hoax. Many speculated that Te’o created the girlfriend because he was covering up that he is actually gay.
The Associated Press reported that Teo’ spoke with Katy Couric about the incident and she asked him if he was gay. The athlete said, "No. Far From it. Faaar from that."