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The NFL is still taking heat over domestic abuse problems.  And, they should take heat for it.  As they struggle to get a grip on the problem, basically their perceived problem of bad publicity, they continue to show just how inconsistent their policies on this issue really are.  As you all know by now, Adrian Peterson was charged with negligent injury of a child for using a switch on his 4 year old son to discipline him.  An arrest warrant was issued on Thursday.  He voluntarily turned himself into law enforcement.  The Minnesota Vikings deactivated him for Sunday’s game.  But, they have reactivated him this week.

As usual, the NFL has done nothing yet.  Besides doing nothing, the NFL hasn’t even said a word about it.  They are apparently “investigating” the situation before making any announcement.  Ray Rice is still suspended indefinitely, but he filed an appeal yesterday.  In these two cases, the league is standing behind their “due process” language saying they really can’t do much until due process has been completed.  There is another case in San Francisco against a 49er player for domestic abuse as well who played on Sunday night against the Bears.

Even if we buy into the “due process” argument, how can the NFL use that argument with Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers?  Greg Hardy was accused of choking his then girlfriend and drug her around by the hair and threatened to kill her.  Hardy was “convicted” in a one day bench trail in Charlotte.  He received 18 months of probation and a 60-day suspended sentence for the misdemeanors he was charged with.  He is appealing the decision and asking for a trial by jury.  Yet, the Carolina Panthers waited until the last-minute to deactivate him.  Even though he was deactivated to play Sunday, he was still paid by the team.

The Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, while accepting a civic award last week, began to cry while speaking about domestic violence.  “When it comes to domestic violence, my stance is not one of indifference. I stand firmly against domestic violence, plain and simple,” he told the audience in Charlotte. “To those who would suggest we’ve been too slow to act, I ask that you consider not to be too quick to judge.”  At that time, Hardy was still eligible to play.

What is the major difference in all of these cases?  The Ray Rice incident had video.  The Adrian Peterson incident has pictures and tweets from Peterson.  The Hardy case and the one in San Francisco have neither video or pictures or tweets.  As a result, the NFL can hide behind their “due process” garbage without too much public outrage because there isn’t anything to show what happened.

I was particularly struck watching the pre-game shows on Sunday.  The one I was really interested in was the NBC pre-game show because it had Tony Dungy on it.  Dungy talked about how he “asked his players to be honest with him” when he had situations come up with Colts players.  He bragged about how they let one player go and punished another.  If I had been able to ask a question of him, I would have asked about the “distractions” these cases brought to the team.  Remember, Dungy said he would not draft an openly gay player because he didn’t want to put up with the “distractions” that would bring.

On Monday night football on ESPN, they had the audacity to question Ray Lewis about his thoughts about domestic violence.  I say the audacity because it was Ray Lewis, former player for the Ravens, who was wrapped up in a murder one Super Bowl Sunday.  He only escaped being part of the defense in an agreement to testify against those involved.  I would think that would sort of disqualify his opinion on domestic violence.

When it comes to handling social issues, this conflict shows exactly why the NFL can’t seem to handle these problems.  The NFL is not alone in this problem either.  They have a very willing partner in the NFLPA.  The NFLPA is very willing to negotiate punishments in their contract for things like drug use or performance enhancing drugs, yet they are loathsome to negotiate punishments for Domestic Violence.  The NFLPA is backing Ray Rice in his appeal and have remained silent on the Hardy incident, as well as others.

It has been suggested that any player who is arrested for domestic violence be deactivated, with pay, throughout the “due process”.  That is an idea that I support.  Players should not be allowed to participate in activities until their cases are resolved one way or the other.  By deactivating them they do not lose any money.  That takes away the argument of punishing them before their case is resolved.

But, in the Hardy case, there already has been a conviction.  So why is the NFL dragging its feet?  “If the NFL is saying there hasn’t been disposition (of the case), I think they’re ducking the issue,” Belmont Abbey law professor Steve Ward told Sports Illustrated. Ward, who is a former prosecutor in Charlotte, North Carolina, told SI that fewer than 5% of bench trials are appealed and Hardy is manipulating the system.

We all know that football is a violent sport.  But, that does not mean that it needs to be filled with men who abuse their family members.  The type of violence on the football field is not comparative to domestic violence.  Beating someone up is hardly the same as tackling a running back.  The league has a long roster of players who are what some would call “model citizens.”  It is this majority of players that are being disrespected by the NFL and the NFLPA.

The NFL and the NFLPA are going to keep their heads in the sand on this issue simply because deactivating these players, some of whom are vital pieces of their teams success, will only hurt the bottom line of their product.  And, until sponsors start saying enough is enough, the league will continue it pathetic path of inconsistent policy in these matters.

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So, the first week of the NFL is getting ready to kick off.  It seems that the whole country is ready for some football.  Unfortunately, there are shadows looming over the NFL this year.  And, it appears these shadows are getting worse each year.  The number of suspensions are extremely high, and nothing seems to be getting done about changing the culture of the NFL.

The San Francisco 49s has probably the most suspensions of any team in the league.  I believe they have 3 or 4 players facing suspensions.  And, then today, it was announced that Wes Welker, of the Denver Broncos, is being suspended for four games for violating the drug policy.  Of course, Welker maintains his innocence and claims that the drug testing procedures in the NFL are flawed.

In Dallas a player who was convicted of vehicular manslaughter has applied for reinstatement.  The league has said that he can return, but he must first face a 10 game suspension.  Naturally, he is going to appeal this suspension.  The star running back for the Baltimore Ravens was handed a two game suspension for domestic violence.  This week the league announced new rules for domestic violence saying they would hand out a six game suspension for a first time offender and a lifetime ban for a second offense.  Of course, the lifetime ban can be appealed after one year.

Just four days later, another player was arrested for domestic violence.  He has said “the truth will come out”.  I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear someone in his position say “the truth will come out”, I keep thinking that the victim will ultimately be blamed for his behavior.

The owner of the Indianapolis Colts has been suspended 6 games and fined $500,000 for his conviction of driving under the influence.  The conviction was a plea bargain and is considered a misdemeanor in Indiana.

Michael Sam was cut by the Rams over the weekend.  Some argue that he was simply playing the wrong position on a team that is full of defensive ends.  Others claim that he was cut because he is openly gay.  I don’t know the real reason for his being cut.  I would hope that it was football related.  But when you consider that every player who was even close to his numbers in pre-season is still with their team, it does make one wonder the real reason for his being cut.  The Dallas Cowboys apparently want him for their practice squad, so we will see what happens from here.

Finally, the Washington Football team is under fire for its nickname.  Many Native Americans are offended by the nickname that has only been used as a racial slur for a few hundred years now.  The owner of the team claims it is a respectful name and doesn’t understand why there is an outcry to have it changed.  Of course, pundits say it is merely politically correct “idiots” who find offense to the name.

So, the number one sport in America is getting ready to start the season.  Yet, there are a lot of questions hanging over the league and its culture.  This culture is nothing new either.  In the past, there have been players accused of murder.  Players were arrested for illegally carrying guns.  Players were suspended because they accidentally shot themselves carrying guns.

To put all of the blame on the NFL is unfair.  The blame goes well beyond the NFL.  It goes to the culture that America has in “entitling” athletes and allowing them to basically get away with it.  Remember a few years ago when some high school players were convicted of raping a classmate?  At least one of those players is back on the football team today.

A prominent football quarterback at a major university was accused of rape last year.  When everything was revealed, it was noted that the police didn’t want to press charges and thought the case shouldn’t have been brought.  They were even quoted as telling the victim that pressing charges would cause her more harm because of the football culture in the town and state.  The whole case was bungled, and the player did not have to answer to the charges.

Football is not alone in all of this either.  Other sports have either had similar problems, or are going through some of them right now too.  I remember when the NBA almost shut down.  I know a lot of people never believed that it would actually close, but the public relations between the NBA and its fans took a horrible hit.

As a matter of fact, back in the 70s, a lot of people considered the NBA nothing but street gangs in shorts.  Some are beginning to wonder if the NFL is nothing but a bunch of street gangs in pads.  That is really an unfair analysis.  Once again, the few who cheat or feel entitled to do whatever they want because they can play football is overshadowing the rest of the players in the league.  I must admit though, that it is those other players who are remaining mute to these scandals that help keep them going.

Baseball had a steroid problem.  Between steroids and human growth hormones, the game was being hijacked by the cheaters.  The only reason this has been at least reduced is because the non-cheaters in the league had enough.  They fought back against the cheaters and it was the players themselves that forced the drug testing and stricter suspensions we now see in baseball.  It wasn’t the congressional hearings that forced baseball’s hand, it was its own players.

When baseball decided to find out how prevalent performance enhancing drugs actually was in the sport, they decided to test all players during spring training.  If the total of “dirty” players was above a certain amount, I believe that it was 5%, mandatory drug testing would be put in place.  If a player refused to take the test, it would count as a positive.  The Chicago White Sox held a team meeting and every player on the team said they would refuse the test so they would ensure the results were above the limit and force mandatory testing.

I find it amazing that sports networks all have “discussions” about whether or not a suspension is appropriate or not.  ESPN is among the most famous for their discussions.  Yet, this is the very network that thought it was appropriate to discuss Michael Sam’s “showering” experiences while with the Rams.

We can argue that lifetime bans should be imposed for various crimes, especially domestic violence.  But, until the players themselves start a backlash that helped baseball, this problem is not going to go away anytime soon.  Until players see beyond their “entitlement” to play football, nothing will ever get fixed.  Until players actually state they will not play with a “dirty” or “repeat offender”, there is nothing that the league really can do.

Teamwork is crucial in football and other sports.  But, teamwork does not end at the sidelines of the playing field.  It should extend beyond the field and into everyday life as well.  Players need to police themselves.  They need to start taking responsibility for their profession and start eliminating those who taint the product.  The players need to stop enabling other players in their bad practices.

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The NFL the other day announced a 2 game suspension for Ray Rice.  Many of you may know that Ray Rice has agreed to “anger management’ treatment and “sensitivity treatment” as part of a plea deal in his case when he punched his then fiancé, now his wife, and dragged her out of an elevator in Las Vegas while she was unconscious.  The part of him dragging her out of the elevator was caught on video and shown to the world.

Hardy, another NFL player in Charlotte, was found guilty by a judge for hitting and throwing his former fiancé and then covering up the crime.  The judge ruled that there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed these crimes.  Yet, he did not hand out any jail time.  Just probation.  Hardy is appealing.  That will result in a “jury” trial, but not before the NFL season is over.  The Charlotte team said they would “defer” punishment to the NFL.

After the NFL announced its punishment of Rice, there was a huge outcry about it being too lenient.  Yesterday, the league said the punishment shows “the league will not tolerate this kind of behavior”.  During one of the arguments about the punishment, Steven A. Smith at ESPN, although acknowledging that domestic abuse cannot be tolerated, went on to say that something needs to be done to determine “provocation” in such cases.  That is right, he believes that domestic cases are “provoked” by the victim.

Let me put it this way, Mr. Smith, approximately 1 in 3 women in this country has been or will be a victim of domestic abuse.  Do you really think that a full one-third of women are provoking their domestic partner to abuse them?  That is an absurd stand!  In my career, I dealt with many women who were abused by their spouses.  Yes, I even dealt with some men who were also abused.  If Mr. Smith wants to know what provokes these attacks it is simple.

The wife burns his supper.  She has a different view on something.  She didn’t dress exactly the way she was expected to.  She wouldn’t have sex with him because he was drunk.  She happened to be home when the drunken husband came in and took out his rage on her.  Often times, it is simply that she is handy.  The vast majority of domestic abuse victims usually fall into one of these “provocations” before being beaten.

It would be easy to speak about this only in terms of the NFL.  But this goes way beyond the NFL.  It goes deep into daily lives of people.  It is tragic.  It is indefensible.  It is pure criminal.  However, too many people look at domestic abuse as Mr. Smith does.  They automatically blame the victim for “provoking” the abuse.  So, instead of these vicious attackers being locked up in jail, they are given suspended sentences or probation like in the two cases above.

I mentioned the two recent NFL cases because they show the unbelievable tolerance society shows to the abuser and the demonization of the victim.  In the case of Mr. Hardy, if the NFL does not act before the appeal, which they usually do not, then he will be able to play the full season.  Oh, by the way, he will make $13 million this season.

More than that, the NFL’s handling of these cases do not show a “no tolerance” policy towards domestic abuse.  It really shows that it will be punished only if you consider a slap on the wrist a punishment.

It is easy to come up with the usual argument about coddling athletes.  We see it in high school, college, and the professional levels.  If someone can play a sport exceedingly well, we tend to look the other way when they commit crimes.  The NFL was quick to point out that Mr. Rice was going to lose two paychecks and that would mean about $230,000.  When you consider his multi-million dollar contract, that is a drop in the bucket.  Can anyone really call that a deterrence?

Sports is not the only place where domestic violence takes place.  It happens all of the time in everyday life.  But, sports is where we can send clear signals that this kind of behavior is not acceptable.  I am not sure that either Mr. Rice or Mr. Hardy lose their right to play football.  But, in order to really deter this kind of violence, a year’s suspension seems a more reasonable punishment.  If players lose a full year of income, that will be a deterrence.  It may also send a clear message to lower players in high school and college that they cannot behave like cavemen and expect to be rewarded on the field.

I have never been one who believes in excessive punishment, except in domestic and/or child abuse cases.  Maybe we should have a punishment where the guilty party is tied to a post and every woman in the community is allowed to give two lashes with a whip.  Men who abuse women are really domestic terrorists who conduct torture.  That is what domestic abuse really is.  These men are animals.  Maybe we should start treating them as such.

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The hoopla is just beginning.  Yesterday, the Trade Mark and Appeal Board ruled to strip the Washington Redskins of six patents on their name.  According to the two to one ruling, the board ruled that the name “redskins” is disparaging.  The team immediately announced that they would appeal the ruling.  This will probably take several years to work itself through the process.

Of course those on the right are using this as an example of the President running rough-shod over the team and the NFL.  The obvious idiot raging against this ruling is none other than Rush Limbaugh.  He is using the argument that the trademark is being stripped because of “political correctness” and nothing else, except the President’s “power grab”.  He claims that there is no authority for this to have happened except the President “ordered the board” to strip the trademark.  He even says it is a violation of property rights.

What the bloated idiot does not say, is that the ruling is in connection with law.  The Trademark Act of 1946 disallows trademarks that may disparage others or bring them into contempt or disrepute. Over the years, the courts have rejected arguments that the First Amendment guarantees the right to register any name as a trademark.

There is the legal authority for the board’s action.  The bloated idiot further argues that other team names such as the “Fighting Irish” will also be under attack.  He listed others like the “Runnin Rebels”.  Of course, that is total nonsense.  Those names are not considered racist.  The term “redskin” has been considered racist, especially by Native Americans, for at least a couple of hundred of years.  Calling a Native American a redskin is akin to calling an African-American the N word.

To show his “property rights” argument is bogus, I have one question for the bloated idiot.  Since you are so ardent about “property rights”, what about all those farmers who have or will lose their property rights to eminent domain for the Keystone XL pipeline?  But, of course, you favor that one so “property rights” don’t figure into the equation.

For Dan Snyder to say that the name “Redskins” is honoring the Native American population is offensive in itself.  How lame  can a person get?  The ruling was a result of Native Americans filing suite with the board saying the name is offensive.  The board apparently agreed.  To get back to the bloated idiot, no one is going to argue over the “Fighting Irish”.  But they would probably fight over the term “Fighting Micks”, or how about the Chicago Polacks, or the New York Hymies, or the Atlanta Hunkies?   These are all racist and offensive names that these groups were called when they first immigrated here.  Now, those names are on the back burner where they belong.  As should the name redskin.

This brings us to another question.  During the NBA playoffs, we saw a real outrage over Donald Sterling’s racist comments.  The players on the teams still playing in the playoffs even considered boycotting games if the NBA didn’t crack down hard on Sterling.  They were rightfully outraged by the comments.  Racism has no place in sports.  Sports is supposed to be all-inclusive and build teamwork.

However, these same players have been silent about the Redskins name.  Why?  Probably because it isn’t directed at them.  After all, the name means nothing to them so why bother.  Maybe they simply don’t understand the origins of the term and what it really means.

The ruling by the board to strip these six trademarks from the Washington Redskins is not the end of the name.  Even if the team loses the appeal, they can still call themselves the redskins.  They just can’t go after anyone else who uses it for royalties.  That is the real big problem for the right-wing.  For them, it is all about economics for “one of their own.”  Forbes estimates that the team gains roughly $145 million per year through marketing trademark merchandise.

No, if left to the appeals process, this issue isn’t going to go away anytime soon.  But, there is one way that will really force the team to change its name.  When players refuse to sign with a team that has a racist name to it.  When players say that racism is racism regardless of who it is against, the fight by the team may end.  The best way for the name to be changed is from within.

I would have had no problem if the NBA players boycotted the playoffs over the Sterling incident.  But I do have a problem when players take millions of dollars from an organization who uses a racist slur for its official name and say nothing.  I just goes to prove that dollars in one’s pocket can overcome outrage fairly easily.

After the shameful way Native Americans were treated in the 1800’s and up to this day, we cannot look the other way anymore.  It was once said that “What happened to the Native Americans in this country was inevitable.  The way it happened was unconscionable.”  By allowing sports teams to continue using racial slurs as trademark names continues the unconscionable aspect of how Native Americans are treated.

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The union organizing at Northwestern University has a lot of people up in arms.  To recap, the football players at Northwestern University want to form a union.  They claim that they are employees of the university.  They receive compensation for their play on the field in the form of scholarships.  The generally work 40-60 per week at their trade, plus go to school.  They are under the control of or monitored by, the coaching staff, and school administrators. These are policies that they have to follow – social media policy, maintaining certain weight, going to class, staying above a certain GPA level.

In order to gain status as “employees” of the university, the players had to show the NLRB they meet these requirements.  The Chicago office of the NLRB ruled that they did meet these requirements, and thus were entitled to form their union.  To coin a phrase “all holy hell broke out” after the decision.

Sen. Lamar Alexander said, “Imagine a university’s basketball players striking before a Sweet 16 game demanding shorter practices, bigger dorm rooms, better food and no classes before 11 a.m.” He added, “This is an absurd decision that will destroy intercollegiate athletics as we know it.”   A lot of others cried that the players were simply trying to get high salaries for playing at the university.  Some of these may sound reasonable, but let’s look at what the players are asking for.

There are three major areas of concern for the players:

No. 1 is medical protections … extending past the end of a player’s eligibility …

No. 2 is to see concussion reform. Concussion prevention and concussion research in the NCAA, and these schools making great strides to protect these players’ brains.

No. 3 is extended academic support. If you only play three or four years because you didn’t red-shirt, you’re not going to have the opportunity to have one year of your grad school paid for like you would if you did red-shirt.

There are a lot of things that the general public does not know about how these athletic scholarships work.  For one, each scholarship is for one year.  That means the university can pull the scholarship from an athlete for a number of reasons.  For example, if a player has a career ending injury, the university can pull that person’s scholarship.  Even though he suffered the injury at the university.

Once a player leaves school, any residual effects from injuries are no longer covered by medical insurance.  If a player receives concussions while playing for a university, there is no medical insurance for lingering effects of those concussions.  It is up to the player to pay for any medical expenses he endures as a result of these concussions.

Scholarships do not cover the entire cost of attending college.  There are a lot of expenses that are required by the university during each semester that scholarships do not cover.  These are paid by the student-athlete out-of-pocket.  Since many athletes, both black and white, are from poor families, this creates a burden on them and their families.

Naturally, this situation is going to take a lot of time to settle.  Northwestern University and the NCAA are fighting this ruling.  The next stop will be at the NLRB in D.C.  If either side does not get what they want, it will probably go the route of the courts.  Maybe even to the Supreme Court.

This whole scenario does serve as a looking-glass on the rest of society.  These students are demanding that they have a voice at the table concerning their education, their workplace conditions, and future.  They know full well that only about 50% of their fellow student-athletes in D1 sports actually graduate from college.  They also know that 99% of all student-athletes never get to the professional level.  They also know that once their playing days are over, they are abandoned by the university in terms of health coverage for lingering injuries going forward.

I would think that if Northwestern University would actually approve this ruling, and support their athletes, it would give them a tremendous edge in recruiting new players.  What player would not pick a university that supports its players in the fashion the current players are demanding?  Though I cannot believe that the NCAA wouldn’t find some way to discipline the university if they did support the ruling.

Only time will tell how this plays out.  I can see changes in the “student-athlete” status coming no matter who wins.  The NCAA is not the most popular organization around.  Whether the Northwestern University football players ultimately win or lose, it should at least bring about meaningful changes to the NCAA.  No matter where you stand on this issue, we should all applaud these players for having the courage to stand up for their rights.

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We have been going through a period where insensitive jokes, comments, accents, etc., have shown up in the Republican Party.  We have seen episodes in Wisconsin and yesterday in Florida.  There is another type of insensitivity that gets mentioned from time-to-time.  But, since Americans love their sports, it doesn’t get the attention is probably should because many people don’t see it as political.  Of course, I am talking about sports team nicknames.

There is currently a lawsuit filed against the Washington Redskins by Native American Groups.  The lawsuit is looking to strip the team from its federal trademark protection.  Dan Snyder, the owner of the team, says that the nickname is meant to “honor” Native Americans.  In order to show just how much he cares about them, he announced that he is creating a foundation to assist Native Americans.  I applaud him for that foundation.  However, I take issue with his statement that the name is “honoring” and “showing respect to Native Americans”.

In a letter he says:

”It’s not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native Americans.  ‘We must do more.”  The letter goes on to state the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation will ”provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities” for Native Americans. The announcement did not state whether Snyder will personally donate any money to the foundation and gave no other financial details.

A major opponent of the nickname said Snyder’s move was ”somewhere between a PR assault and bribery.” Suzan Shown Harjo, a lead figure in a long-running case told The Associated Press that Snyder is showing the ”same arrogance” that he’s shown previously when defending the nickname.

”I’m glad that he’s had a realization that Native Americans have it tough in the United States,” Harjo said. ”All sorts of people could have told him that, and have been trying to tell him that for a long time.”

If Mr. Snyder would take a little time to look at history, he will discover, probably to his amazement, that the term “redskin” was used as a racial slur towards Native Americans.  Native Americans were considered as “savages” by the white community throughout our history.  White society valued the land Native Americans held as hunting grounds, and went out of their way to mostly kill-off the native populations.

Since that time, Native Americans, especially those living on reservations, suffer in extreme poverty.  Many reservations don’t even have basic infrastructure.  They have mostly been ignored by the government and other American Citizens.  Their plight is almost invisible to most Americans.  That has resulted in nothing being done to help them get out of the poverty they suffer.

I find it very difficult to believe that anyone could claim that using a racial slur as a team nickname is “honoring” those people.  What kind of outcry would ensue if a team renamed themselves Honkies?  Or if a team called themselves the Hymies?  These wouldn’t go over well.  So, why should we condone the use of Native American nicknames?

In the movie The Dog Soldiers, an anthropologist who specialized in Native American scholarship said “What happened to the Native Americans was inevitable.  The way it happened was unconscionable”.  Continuing using Native American nicknames for sporting teams could fall under the second sentence.  It is time we listen to their concerns.  After all, they were here first!

 

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The NFL Combines are getting started.  For those who don’t follow sports, this is where potential draft picks show off their skills in hopes of improving their draft spots.  This year, we are faced with a different dilemma.  This year, Michael Sam publicly announced that he is gay.  This isn’t just some player who decided to go public either.  Michael Sam was the co-defensive player of the year in the SEC.  Before his public announcement he was projected to go somewhere between the third and sixth rounds.  But, since his announcement, even that selection may be in jeopardy.

Following his announcement, the NFL released a statement that said:  “We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage.  Michael is a football player.  Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL.  We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”

That sounds really nice.  But, the NFL front office doesn’t make draft selections.  It is the individual teams that make the selection.  From other sources, who naturally needed to be protected by anonymity, other comments came out that were not so inclusive.

An NFL player personnel assistant said: “I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet. In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”

An NFL scout said: “I just know with this going on this is going to drop him down (in the draft),” He added: “There’s no question about it. It’s human nature. Do you want to be the team to quote-unquote ‘break that barrier?’”

An NFL assistant coach called Sam’s decision “not a smart move,” and promised that it will “legitimately affect [his] potential earnings.” That coach went on to justify his statement by saying: “If you knowingly bring someone in (the locker room) with that sexual orientation, how are the other guys going to deal with it? It’s going to be a big distraction.”

Plus, remember the just released Wells report about the Miami Dolphins bullying included homophobic comments made to another teammate.  One coach even gave that player a blow-up male doll as a “joke”.

In a normal conversation all of this would call into question where Sam will end up in the draft, if at all.  The NFL claims that players are selected based on their skill level.  Yet, here are team officials who say that may not be the case.  In fact, they are predicting that he will not be selected solely on his skills but rather whether or not a team wants to “break that barrier”.  To put this into context, it is important to note that these comments to this effect follow earlier claims by former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe that he was fired for supporting marriage equality.

What is really at stake here is not whether or not a football player should be drafted or not based on his skills, but rather if his sexual orientation should affect his ability to make a living doing the job he has trained to do.  This goes well beyond the playing field.  This brings us back to Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

Michael Sam is not the only potential employee to face discrimination because of his sexual orientation.  Thousands of Americans face discrimination because of their orientation as well.  They can be fired from their job, or not hired to one, simply because they are gay.  This is law in several states.  Republicans refuse to even discuss ENDA claiming it is unnecessary.

You may ask how these homophobic statements show employment discrimination?  Just look at the NFL’s statement again:   “We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”

Now when you look at the quotes again, you can clearly see that these are employers talking about a potential employee.  What if those comments were about race instead of sexual orientation?  Would that change things?  Would the NFL openly chastise these people for their comments?

Is it be OK for employers to promise that a prospective employee will be paid less (it “legitimately affects [his] potential earnings”) because he is gay?  Is  it OK for employers to say a potential future employee will not get a particular position within the company (“it’s going to drop him down”) because he is gay?

I think we can all agree that this would constitute discrimination.  Yet, without ENDA, this type of practice is rampant in many parts of our country.  Until Congress passes ENDA, this type of discrimination will continue unabated.  If you think that this type of discrimination is okay, then I suggest we allow companies to fire or not hire anyone who is a Baptist, Calvinist, Catholic, Methodist, or any other sect that is not part of the “correct” Christian Group.  Maybe then you will understand that discrimination is wrong in every case!

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