Surely, at the NFL Combine, there is something to be gained from the teams interviewing potential draftees. Perhaps the Seahawks learn that the wide receiver from Kansas is a quick thinker with a good attitude, and would fit well within their organizational ethos. Who knows! These interviews definitely shouldn't be used to ask whether a player likes men, though. Apparently, the Atlanta Falcons didn't quite grasp that.
As CSN Philly reports, Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple's Falcons' interview proceeded just so, with a Falcons coach asking him point-blank if he liked men. His full quote:
"The Falcons coach, one of the coaches, was like, 'So do you like men?' It was like the first thing he asked me. It was weird. I was just like, 'no.' He was like, 'if you're going to come to Atlanta, sometimes that's how it is around here, you're going to have to get used to it.' I guess he was joking but they just ask most of these questions to see how you're going to react."
Of course, asking someone about their sexual orientation in a job interview isn't just weird and needlessly personal—it's against the law. The NFL ran into this issue back in 2013, when a team reportedly asked tight end Nick Kasa about his sexual orientation in a combine interview. One year later, when linebacker Michael Sam announced that he was gay prior to the combine, the NFL sent out a memo to all teams reminding them that it's illegal to discriminate based on a number of factors, including sexual orientation.
Sam, who was eventually drafted by the St. Louis Rams, would've become the first openly gay player in NFL history; he was cut in training camp, meaning there still hasn't been an openly gay person on an active NFL roster. (There have been a number of players who've come out after retiring.)
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Falcons head coach Dan Quinn released a statement after the reports, apologizing to Apple and stating "this is not what the Atlanta Falcons are all about."
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.