New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma might not be happy if a fellow NFL player were to come out as gay and wind up in the shower next to him.
Andrea Kremer, the NFL's chief correspondent for player health and safety, recently sat down with various NFL members to discuss the culture of the locker room. The men admitted to a no-holds-barred atmosphere, where the n-word flies and hazing happens. But apparently the possibility of an openly gay player in that atmosphere would "test the limits of tolerance," according to Kremer.
"There's such a stigma with gay and homosexuals within male sports," London Fletcher, Washington Redskins linebacker, said during the session with Kremer. "It would be very difficult for that first person to come out."
"I think that he would not be accepted as much as we think he would be accepted," Vilma added. "I don't want people to just naturally assume, like, 'Oh, we're all homophobic.' That's really not the case. Imagine if he's the guy next to me and, you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me. How am I supposed to respond?"
OutSports' Cyd Zeigler suggested Vilma respond the way someone would to anyone who's looking in the shower: Tell a joke or just keep chatting like it never happened.
Vilma was accused of homophobia in 2011 when he tweeted: “Grown men should NOT hav [sic] female tendencies. Period.” When a backlash ensued, he responded: “So of course the homosexual men get sensitive to my tweet and respond all ticked off. RELAX I was not referring to u guys."
Last April, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said that as many as four closeted, active players could come out as gay to the public. However, not a single active NFL player came out in 2013.