|Gay Games Ambassadors David Kopay and Esera Tuolo,|
former NFL players, both came out after retiring
It's true that some fans are never going to be able to tolerate homosexuality of any kind, and judging from the many pieces of legislation that have passed in states banning gay marriage, there are red states in which same-sex love is considered sacrilegious by a significant proportion of the population. Yet I've also talked to plenty of players who, unlike Hearst, are surprisingly enlightened when it comes to such matters. They're used to being in huddles with men whose backgrounds, political and religious orientations and social habits are strikingly different, and they understand that the truly successful teams manage to forge a bond in spite of all this and play football like de facto brothers.
Because of its brutally physical nature, football roots out insincerity like no other team sport. A player who demonstrates his toughness and willingness to sacrifice for his teammates receives a whole lot of slack when it comes to off-the-field matters, more than the casual fan might imagine. Call me crazy, but if a guy were to play like Ray Lewis on Sunday afternoon, he could show up for Wednesday morning's meeting wearing a feather boa and tight leather pants, whip out the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living and brag about the backstage passes he'd received for the upcoming Barbra Streisand concert without receiving anything more than playful grief from his teammates.
I'm not trying to sound superficial. I know there's a lot of hate and fear out there. I realize some people get physically attacked for failing to disguise their homosexuality, and most of the time Shaquille O'Neal isn't there to bring the perpetrators to justice.
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