After Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out as gay, NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith wanted to make sure the NFL community knows: gay football players are nothing new. Based on his comments, it appears that such players have never been a problem.
NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith said his dominant Buffalo Bills teams during the 1990s had at least one gay player.— The Virginian-Pilot (@virginianpilot) June 29, 2021
Smith, a Norfolk native who played at Booker T. Washington High and Virginia Tech, told TMZ a player’s sexual orientation never mattered.https://t.co/KnhpjtAdkp
“We had gay players in our locker room,” Smith said to TMZ. “I think it was the mid to late 90s and I think we might have had two, but that wasn’t what we were focused on.”
And rightfully so. Why on earth would players give a rip if their teammate sleeps with men or women? Sexual orientation is literally irrelevant to the task at hand, and that’s clearly how Bruce Smith thinks. The fact that we’re just hearing about this story now goes to show his teammates felt the same way.
“We were focused on winning games and each and every person that was in that locker room contributing to the goal at hand, which was winning football games. None of that other stuff mattered. This was about winning football games and trying to be a good person.”
He did encourage Nassib, though:
“Obviously, we like to see the inclusion part,” Smith continued. “We like to see folks understand that the world is changing, and you have to embrace those that may be a little bit different and it’s okay.”
Smith went on to explain that, ultimately, sexuality isn’t important, but character is.
“Judge me by my character and judge me by the way I treat people. If we show a little bit more love and compassion in the world, this will be a much better place.”
Overall, Bruce Smith is on the money. The world is changing and we have to come to grips with that. Having said that, is identifying the sexual orientation of players on NFL rosters important to changing the culture in NFL locker rooms? Who said gay NFL players have been mistreated by teammates? Athletes like LeBron James claim “locker room talk” and overall toxicity doesn’t exist, so why are we suddenly pretending that culture is toxic towards gay players? Seems to me that any player can pretend he isn’t welcome and force the NFL and its players to coddle him.
It seems that these type of stories will never end. We’re glad Nassib feels confident in his own skin. However, it’s still annoying we have to have this discussion. It’s simply irrelevant information that doesn’t affect winning or losing in any type of way. And winning and losing is all we care about.