New York's attorney general asks NFL to explicitly state it won't tolerate sexual orientation bias
Some prospects said teams asked them about girlfriends in skills audition last month
The NFL, headquartered in New York, has said it already has policies in place
New York’s attorney general wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday, urging him to firmly state that potential players won’t be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.
The letter from Eric Schneiderman comes after a few prospective players said that during last month’s scouting combine in Indianapolis, one or more NFL teams asked them questions about their relationships with women.
The remarks spurred a debate over whether NFL clubs were inquiring into players’ sexual preferences and whether gay people would be discriminated against by the 32 teams.
“Equal protection under the law is an essential issue for employers, employees and prospective job applicants,” Schneiderman wrote to Goodell. “For that reason, I ask that the league clarify its position by issuing a public statement that any form of discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation by league teams or their employees or agents against potential recruits or players constitutes a violation of state, local and, in some cases, contractual law, and will not be tolerated.”
In February, Nick Kasa, who played tight end at the University of Colorado, told CNN that during the combine he was asked: “Do you have a girlfriend? Are you married? Do you like girls?”
“Those kind of things, and it was kind of weird,” he told CNN. “But like they would ask you with a straight face, and it’s a pretty weird experience altogether.” Kasa did not say who asked him those questions.
University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson told a sports radio talk show that he was asked whether he had a girlfriend.
The NFL said in February that it would investigate the allegations and said it already had policies against such questions in place.
“Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said at the time.
League policy states that teams “neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process,” Aiello said then. “In addition, there are specific protections in our collective bargaining agreement with the players that prohibit discrimination against any player, including on the basis of sexual orientation.”
On Thursday, Aiello reiterated the league’s position that all teams must follow federal and state employments laws.
The combine is a skills audition for NFL general managers and coaches to evaluate players before the draft, which this year will be held April 25 to 27.
The National Football League is based in New York.