There has certainly been a great deal of speculation swirling aroudn whether or not Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o is gay. The speculation has been going on for some time now due to the revelation that his “tragic, late girlfriend” was actually a hoax perpetuated by a young man who had a major interest in him. Now, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and NBC Sports is stating that NFL coaches and general managers are inquiring whether or not Te’o is gay.
Florio, speaking on the Dan Patrick Show, stated “On the field, you still have to account for what happened in the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama. Here’s the elephant in the room for the teams and it shouldn’t matter, but we have to step aside from the rest of reality and walk into the unique industry that is the NFL. Teams want to know whether Manti Te’o is gay. They just want to know. They want to know because in an NFL locker room, it’s a different world. It shouldn’t be that way.”
Te’o has denied that he is gay, and it is likely that in interviews with the various NFL teams that they are not asking whether or not he is gay, but the question still lingers like the air after the famous “baked beans scene” from Blazing Saddles.
Florio also stated “I don’t think you can ask that question — because of the Dez Bryant question (he was asked by Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland if his mother was a prostitute) of a few years ago. If you go Katie Couric on Manti Te’o, it’s going to come out that some team, some GM some coach asked Manti Te’o if he’s gay. Then you’ll have to deal with all the distraction and all the stuff that flows after that.”
Patrick then interrupted Florio to ask “You’re telling me that you’re hearing from teams who want to know this, but how do you ask it? Are they trying to find a finesse way to ask that question, or are they going to do investigative work on finding out if Manti Te’o is gay?”
To which Florio responded: “It’s been described to me as the proverbial elephant in the room and I don’t think anyone knows how to solve this dilemma yet. It’s just that they want to know what they’re getting. They want to know what issues they may be dealing with down the road. We just assumed that at some point there would be an openly gay player in an NFL locker room and the team would have to work with the realities and make sure that everything’s fine.
He went on to say “Now you have a situation where you have a guy who was in a relationship with a fake girl who ended up being a real man, and the man has said to Dr. Phil that he was romantically in love with Manti Te’o, it just raises a lot of questions that the NFL at some point is going to have to deal with.
And Florio also said “Tony Dungy makes a great point on this. If the NFL were ready for an openly gay player, there would be an openly gay player. Nobody knows better the feel of an NFL locker room than someone who’s in it. I’m not saying anyone would take Manti Te’o off the board if they suspected he’s gay or know he’s gay. That’s just the thing that’s out there that they want to know the answer to.”
Should it prove that Manti Te’o is gay, the situation could be difficult for the NFL to deal with given the fact that there is a great deal of homophobia within the locker rooms of the various pro-football teams; however, an out player could repair the recently tarnished reputation of the NFL with regards to LGBT acceptance. Ahead of the Super Bowl, several players from the San Francisco 49′ers made uncomfortable and even homophobic remarks which resulted in a rather large scandal.
The 49′ers, of course, went on to lose the Super Bowl to the more pro-LGBT Baltimore Ravens.