The NFL Combine is widely seen as the world’s biggest football tryout, with elite athletes from across the country showcasing their skills to teams. The Combine is notorious for the probing questions that teams ask potential draftees, and this year’s edition is no different. In the wake of the “catfish” scandal that ensnared Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, some teams are asking about athlete’s sexual orientation.
According to an ABC News.com report, several players including Le’Veon Bell of Michigan State, Nick Kasa of Colorado and Denard Robinson from Michigan were asked if they had girlfriends or if they were attracted to women. It is suspected that NFL general managers do not want to draft a player that will suffer the same embarrassment (and garner speculation about their sexual orientation) that Te’o went through.
But in the interest of protecting their commercial interests, are general managers breaking the law?
New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman warned that the NFL should refrain from asking potential draftees about their sexual orientation. The state’s anti discrimination laws prohibit employers from asking applicants about this aspect of their lives, and since the NFL is based in New York, Schneiderman insists that the law applies to the league.
The current collective bargaining agreement prohibits NFL teams from asking current players about their sexual status, but it does not cover draftees. Nevertheless, the league released a statement indicating that league policy prohibits inquiries or consideration of sexual orientation in the hiring process, and that teams that do so will be subject to discipline.
We find this story interesting not because anti discrimination storylines almost never penetrate the NFL. We will continue to monitor this story.
Source: ABC News.com, NFL warned against asking players about sexual orientation, March 14, 2013