NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 24: Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints runs past Scott Fujita of the Cleveland Browns at the Louisiana Superdome on October 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Since his days with the Saints, Scott Fujita has always been outspoken with his political views — specifically those regarding gay rights. Now with the Cleveland Browns his stance remains the same, and as the issue heats up with reports of inappropriate questions being asked at the NFL Combine, the linebacker once again talked about the next step toward accepting openly gay players in the locker room.
In an interview with 92.3 The Ticket in Cleveland (compiled by Sports Radio), Fujita discussed how the NFL Players Association can help gay players feel comfortable about coming out, the issue, or rather non-issue, of a gay player in the Browns locker room and coaches reportedly asking players if they like girls at the combine.
Fujita, who holds a political science degree from the University of California, Berkeley, shed some light on how other athletes can help by speaking out — like Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo have done extensively in the past couple of years — and changing the stereotypes that exist about the environment off the field.
“It takes more and more straight athletes to come out and show our support and that’s what it’s about,” said Fujita. “I think for far too long there was this perception, or I guess I would call it a misperception, that our locker rooms in the NFL are extremely homophobic and that could not be further from the truth.
“I would argue that the overwhelming majority would be fine with having a teammate who was gay. I said the only way you are going to find out if that was the case if you start asking guys how they would feel about having a gay teammate.”
When asked if a gay player in the Browns locker room would be an issue, Fujita replied “It would not be an issue at all.” While changing the culture of gay athletes in professional sports is not going to change overnight, Fujita sees progress and believes “the conversation has evolved considerably just in the last three or four years.”
“I appreciate the fact that more minds are being open to talking about this conversation, and in the very near future it’s going to be the point where this conversation won’t even need to be had.”
The NFL Combine is certainly one place where this conversation should not be had as some prospects said they were asked about their relationships. Fujita believes the fault lies on the NFL and they must step up to ensure those types of questions are not being asked in the future.
“Certainly asking someone about their sexuality — first of all it’s against the law. Second of all, it’s absolutely a violation of our CBA and that’s where the NFL the onus is on them to do the right thing.”
On Wednesday the NFL said it would investigate the report that at least one team asked about a prospect’s sexual orientation.
Photo via Facebook/The.Scott.Fujita