Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 6/12/12
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Connor Barwin has spoken out. He has dropped the hammer. He has expressed a normal and popular sentiment about homosexuality that feelsfamiliar to all of us. This is headline news because Connor Barwin is a football player, one who playsin the NFL. Barwin, a linebacker for the Houston Texans, is not gay, but if he were, hedoesn't think it would be that big of a deal in the Houston Texans' lockerroom, or any other in the NFL."I think, right now, it would probably be hardfor a guy to come out in our locker room just because of the awkwardness,"Barwin told the website OutSports.com. "But I think they would besurprised at how welcoming people would be. I think at the end of the day, guyscare about how you play football, because we're all so competitive aboutwinning that if there is a guy who comes out as gay in our locker room and he'sa good football player, people aren't going to care about that. I think that'sthe honest truth." OutSports.com explores the intersections of homosexuality and the sportsworld. The story has quickly been picked up my mainstream media outletsand turned Barwin otherwise best known for getting lots of sacks and resemblingCosmo Kramer of Seinfeld into an inspirational figure of sorts on thisissue. Barwin, who has a gay brother, admits he hasn't had a conversation with ateammate about this particular hypothetical. I don't have any reason to doubtwhat Barwin is saying. He's the one in the locker room every day. So if he saysit wouldn't be that big of a deal, I'm inclined to believe him unless anotherNFL player tells me otherwise, and that seems unlikely. The main reason it seems unlikely is that I have a hard time believingattitudes toward homosexuality are much different inside an NFL locker room asthey are outside one. The issue is controversial so there are going to bevarying opinions, but I believe the prevailing attitude toward homosexuality inthe United States in 2012, especially among people in their 20s and 30s, is oneof acceptance. Its unfair to assume football players are not riding thespinning wheel of American culture with the rest of us. Basically, there is nothing surprising about what Barwin said. The greatest truth he expressed to OutSports.com was that "at the end ofthe day, guys care about how you play football." Wins and losses are allthat ever matter in sports, which is why teams have a long history of acceptingthose society was not ready to accept as long as they were a positivecomponent of the club. "It would help a lot if the player was a contributor to the team,"Barwin told OutSports.com. "If he was a guy that people didn't like hispersonality or wasn't helping on the team, I think it would be very hard forhim." There are almost 1,700 NFL players at any given moment. Some of them are gay.They have to be. It might be a lower percentage than the population at large,but even if it's 1 percent, then there is one gay player for every two NFLteams. So far, no player has come out during his career, and Barwin said he hasnever known a teammate to be gay. But there's a difference between knowing a teammate to be gay and knowingyou've had some gay teammates, and NFL players know that. Because, though, theylive in the macho hetero football world, they live in the real world, too. "It's amazing how many people know relatives or friends who are gay,"Barwin said. "So I think it might not be as hard as some peoplethink."
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