A top NFL draft prospect, Eli Apple, was asked by assistant coach Marquand Manuel whether he liked men
Manuel: "It was wrong, and I apologize"
The incident "remains under review" by the NFL
Atlanta Falcons assistant coach Marquand Manuel apologized Monday for asking an NFL prospect if he liked men during last month’s NFL Scouting Combine.
“I take full responsibility for the inappropriate question I asked at the Combine. It was wrong, and I apologize to (Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback) Eli Apple, (Falcons owner) Mr. (Arthur) Blank, the entire Falcons organization, my family, and our Falcon fans for my insensitivity,” Manuel said in a statement.
“I understand it was inappropriate and the offense people have taken to it. I have had an individual counseling session on social responsibility today, and was part of a staff session as well, and found it very valuable in learning from this situation. Moving forward, I will become a better man by going through all of this.”
Manuel asked Apple, a red-shirt sophomore, the question during the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
When asked by Comcast SportsNet’s “Breakfast on Broad” what was the weirdest question during his interview at the NFL Combine, Apple replied: “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.”
Apple, a top prospect and a potential first-round pick, finished last season with 33 tackles and one interception for the fourth-ranked Buckeyes.
Head coach speaks to his staff
Falcons coach Dan Quinn said that he spoke with his entire coaching staff about the matter and that his staff had a training seminar with a league-approved counselor Monday.
“I have spoken to every coach on our staff individually and collectively today in regards to what happened at the Combine,” Quinn said in a statement.
“The inappropriate conversation occurred between one of our position coaches and the player; it was not during one of our formal 15-minute interviews. Following my discussions with the coaches, we have taken additional steps to ensure our entire staff is well-educated on the appropriate questions and comments that should be made during these processes.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told CNN on Monday that the incident “remains under review.”
The ombine is a skill audition and physical evaluation for players who have declared for the NFL Draft, which will be held on April 28-30 in Chicago.
This is not the first time an NFL prospect has reported being asked about his sexual orientation.
In February 2013, tight end Nick Kasa, now with the Denver Broncos, told ESPN Radio Denver that at least one team asked him, “Do you like girls?”
“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 told CNN at the time.
Three years before that, the Combine generated controversy when then-Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland asked Dez Bryant, now a Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, whether Bryant’s mother was a prostitute. Ireland apologized. He is now a scout with the New Orleans Saints.