The NFL swears up and down its doing everything to show its comfortable with openly gay players. But maybe quizzing prospects about their sexuality at the NFL Combine isn’t the best way to go.
Eli Apple, who is considered a likely first-round draft pick, spoke with Comcast SportsNet’s Breakfast On Broad today about his experiences at the Combine, where college football players are put through a rigorous gauntlet observed by team scouts, coaches and managers.
They’re also subjected to numerous questions—both to see if they’re a good fit, and to gauge their reactions.
“I’ve been asked a lot of weird questions. I don’t know if I could say on TV,” Apple told co-host Jillian Mele. “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.”
When the former Ohio State defensive lineman replied that he wasn’t gay, he says the unnamed coach told him, “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.”
After the interview aired, Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn issued a statement:
I am really disappointed in the question that was asked by one of our coaches. I have spoken to the coach that interviewed Eli Apple and explained to him how inappropriate and unprofessional this was.
I have reiterated this to the entire coaching staff and I want to apologize to Eli for this even coming up. This is not what the Atlanta Falcons are about and it is not how we are going to conduct ourselves.”
An NFL spokesman said the league would conduct an investigation of its own.