Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gay New York Jets?

Gay New York Jets players? Yes there are some. And it's a problem.

I've mentioned this before in passing in past posts. It's been a problem before but the Jets are such a mess that the gay issue has been overshadowed by other pressing matters, like the lack of a quality QB, the lousy offensive line and the locker-room tension generated by inept backup QB Tim Tebow hogging all the media attention while contributing nothing in games. This team is terrible, quite evident in the 28-9 pounding by a bad Buffalo Bills team today.

According to two sources close to two Jets players, there are three partially-closeted gay players who are generating a different kind of tension. Respecting the privacy rights of the gay players, the sources won't reveal their names. Some straight Jets are aware of the gay players and feel uneasy in their presence. In that locker room, homophobia, not tolerance, rules. The gay issue creates another layer of tension, one that this team, with everything else going wrong, couldn't handle.

Right now, in the macho locker-room atmosphere of the NFL there is no place for gay players. They still make the straight players uncomfortable. Some straight Jets are aware of the gay players and feel uneasy in their presence. As the team spiraled down the drain, the gay problem was a contributing factor.

The NFL is about a decade behind the real world in acceptance of gay players. Around the league, bonding and camaraderie have "straight" written all over them. Implicitly, the message in the locker rooms  is a firm "no gays allowed." Owners and general managers know that signing a gay player is like tossing a grenade into the locker room. There are enough messy issues there without adding something as incendiary as a gay player.

The Jets are in turmoil. With their season over, it's not clear which players will return. It's possible that the gays won't be on the roster next season. Most likely, though, according to the sources, the gay players will be back. Whether they're farther out of the closet remains to be seen. Could management find out who they are and, despite talent ratings, ship them to another team? Maybe.

The only problems sure to be dumped are bumbling QBs Tebow and Mark Sanchez. The gay problem and its accompanying tensions? That will probably be haunting the Jets again next fall.