Jerry Jones: Dallas Cowboys would welcome a gay player

Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys and arguably the most famous of the league’s 32 owners, told Wade Davis, a former defensive back who came out in 2012, that he and the Cowboys would welcome an openly gay player.

“When someone like him speaks out, the world changes,” Davis told USA TODAY Sports.

Davis spoke to NFL owners, coaches and general managers about sexual orientation in sports on Wednesday in Orlando, Fla. Davis came out nine years after his last stint on an NFL roster ended and has already received positive feedback from meetings in New York with NFL officials, including commissioner Roger Goodell, over the past several months.

But there was a moment after his second presentation, this one to team owners on Tuesday morning, that confirmed to Davis just how much impact he had made in the quest to eliminate homophobia in the NFL.

But it wasn’t just Jones. It was coaches like John Fox of the Denver Broncos, who called Davis’ presentation the best he had ever seen at these annual meetings, and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who said it is up to NFL owners to spearhead this culture change.

Respect in the workplace has been the overarching theme at the league’s annual meetings, from the fallout of the Miami Dolphins locker room bullying scandal to discussions about use of racial slurs to preparations for the league’s first openly gay player in former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who came out last month and is preparing for the draft.

“I think the most important thing is that it is a matter of respect,” Blank told USA TODAY Sports. “How we live is more important than what we say about it. The guidance that we’re getting from the league is outstanding, and the attention that it is getting is outstanding. But is up to us to make sure it becomes a living part of our culture, with more sensitivity, more awareness of the impact of what we’re saying.”

Davis said he was approached by numerous coaches and other team executives to visit with teams. He hasn’t set up any presentations yet, but Davis and Troy Vincent, the former Pro Bowl defensive back who was named the NFL’s vice present of football operations, will work to set up a program for speaking directly to players.

“I might share more of my personal stories with players, but I’m going to let them know that hey, we don’t want to be treated any differently, we just want to be part of the NFL family, too,” said Davis, who played two years for NFL Europe and participated in three NFL training camps.

Fox’s Broncos team could be among those Davis visits this year, though Fox won’t wait to share what he learned in Orlando once he returns to Denver.

“You need diversification in everything — even sexual orientation. It has to be in the conversation,” Fox said. “I think it was very profound. It was definitely eye-opening for me.”

—  Steve Ramos

Ex-NFL player comes out as gay

OutSports.com is reporting that Wade Davis, now 34 and a former player on the Washington Redskins football team, is gay.

Davis made the announcement, explaining why he felt he could not come out while on an active roster, here. He even talks about his boyfriend.

No active male player on an American team sport has ever come out, though members of the NBA, MLB and now NFL have come out after the fact.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Hitting a tipping point

Phoenix Suns President and CEO Rick Welts (Michael Chow, The Arizona/Associated Press)

Sports figures’ decisions to come out can push LGBT community one step closer to equality

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Flagging Left

In his book The Tipping Point, Malcom Gladwell writes about what he calls “social epidemics.” Just like a disease epidemic can blow up and spread very quickly, ideas can suddenly become embraced by the public at large and spread at a rapid pace.

That point when something goes from being just a few people who embrace the idea to the critical mass needed to flood the mainstream consciousness of the country is the “tipping point.”

At its most fundamental level, the LGBT movement begins with opening the closet door. That coming out process is almost always difficult and sometimes it takes years, but it is the beginnings of genuine liberation.

Well, on the coming out front, we may be at the tipping point and for the LGBT rights movement that could trigger a big change

Today I read a story about Jared Max, a sportscaster for ESPN Radio who said this in his morning show:

“Are we ready to have our sports information delivered by someone who is gay? Well we are gonna find out. Because for the last 16 years, I’ve been living a free life among my close friends and family, and I’ve hidden behind what is a gargantuan-sized secret here in the sports world: I am gay.

“Yeah. Jared Max. The sports guy who is one of the most familiar faces in New York sports isn’t quite like the majority. And while you already knew I was a little different, this might help make sense of it. But more so, I’m taking this courageous jump into the unknown having no idea how I will be perceived. …”

This is pretty big news, but even bigger when you consider the other folks who came out in the just the past few weeks:

• Don Lemon, weekend anchor for CNN Newsroom announced last week that he is gay. He did so in advance of the release of his new book, Transparent, in which he discusses his life as an African-American newscaster and as a gay man.

• Look to sports again as the CEO of the Phoenix Suns, Rick Welts, came out in a story in the New York Times. Why? He said that he wanted to do something to help youth struggling with their own sexual identity issues, to assure them they could come out and still have a successful career.

• Former Villanova basketball star, Will Sheridan, kicked open his closet door coming out publicly on ESPN just a day after Rick Welts.

• And all this after former NFL player Wade Davis came out as part of a GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) Sports Project a couple of months ago.

Perhaps I am the only one to see a trend here, but when broadcasters and, more specifically, sports figures start feeling it’s OK to come out, we might be nearing that tipping point.

This trend is not that new either. In the past few years dozens of high-profile people have made their sexual orientation known. My hope is that the cumulative effect will push things over the edge.

What would that look like? Well, it would be somewhat of a continuation of what we see now: more and more people publicly coming out until the mere act of announcing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity will become so commonplace that it is no longer news.

That would signal that LGBT people had really taken a major step toward full equality. The day when a celebrity or sports figure comes out and is no longer headline material, or more importantly no longer feels the need to hold a press conference to do it, will be a great day for LGBT rights.

So to all those celebrities, sports figures, actors, politicians who are still in the closet: Come out! You may be the nudge that pushes things past the tipping point — and that is something that will benefit everyone.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

—  John Wright