What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Why do you think you would be a good fit in this role? These are some of the most common questions people face in a job interview, and making sure you have the right answer can be stressful. The stakes are even higher when the job is for a multi-million dollar position right out of college. But how about if you sat down and had an interviewer ask if you are a homosexual?
The NFL Combine is held every year, inviting dozens of NFL Draft eligible football players to work out and interview with teams. Players get in, get weighed and measured, run drills, and speak with coaches. Their performance at the combine can have a huge impact on where they get picked in the NFL Draft, and therefore how much money they stand to make. To give you an idea: the first pick in the 2015 draft received just over $25 million guaranteed. The last pick got just over $52,000.
There is a lot at stake for both players and teams. Poor draft choices can quickly lead to coaches losing their jobs. And while speed is easily measured, personality is not.
Ohio St cornerback Eli Apple is one of the best players in the draft and projected as a first round pick. At the combine his goal would be to make the best impression possible. But when he walked into the interview with the Atlanta Falcons, you can be sure he wasn’t expecting to be asked if he was gay.
“The Falcons coach, one of the coaches, was like, ‘So do you like men?’ It was like the first thing he asked me. It was weird. I was just like, ‘no.’ He was like, ‘if you’re going to come to Atlanta, sometimes that’s how it is around here, you’re going to have to get used to it.’ I guess he was joking but they just ask most of these questions to see how you’re going to react.”
In what world is such a question appropriate or relevant? The coach says its because “sometimes that’s how it is around here”? While Atlanta does have a strong LGBT community, this coach is basically implying that, if Apple is drafted by the Falcons, he will have to deal an unending stream of men being interested in him.
In short, this question is simply an NFL coach subjecting a kid to his bigotry toward homosexuals. It’s hard to see it any other way. If Apple answered no, he was giving him a heads up because “that’s how it is”. And if he says yes, he is gay? Where would the coach have gone from there?
Professional male athletes who have come out as gay have expressed their concern about how they would be received by teammates. It can be a boys club – that is, a straight boys club. But its their right to play, like its their right to serve in the Army, or vote in an election, or walk down the street. Questions and attitudes like this are a major setback to the hope that maybe this bigotry wasn’t so commonplace any longer.
The assistant coach is currently under investigation by the league.