While on the one hand it was nice to see LeCharles Bentley stand up for Cleveland on Twitter yesterday, it also feels a bit dirty. Yesterday LeCharles Bentley had some choice words for Braylon Edwards and his most recent criticisms aimed at Cleveland. The only problem is that LeCharles decided that the best way to get back at Braylon Edwards for dissing Cleveland was a thinly veiled gay joke. You know, because there is nothing worse in the world you could call someone other than gay, right? I won’t quote it directly here. You can take my word for it, and if you really need to figure out what he said, you can find it pretty easily with The Google.
I am sure a lot of people will just say that it is a cultural thing in the NFL. Some will say that guys who are programmed to take each other’s heads off on each and every play of the NFL season need some leeway with regard to their cultural sensitivity. These are not politicians or clergymen, and people need to consider the sources of statements when judging said statements.
When Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy movie came out a lot of pro-gay groups came out and criticized the movie because one of the characters in the movie, Banky portrayed by Jason Lee, made a lot of anti-gay jokes. Kevin Smith, at the time, was blown away that anyone wouldn’t consider the source as he had the anti-gay jokes delivered by the dumbest character in the script. Maybe in the same vein, we shouldn’t really look to former NFL offensive linemen for cues on cultural sensitivity.
LeCharles Bentley’s statement about Braylon Edwards is a reminder of culture in the NFL we watch every week. To date, there has never been an openly gay NFL player. Also to date, I believe there are only three former NFL players who have come out of the closet, most notably, Esera Tuaolo in 2002. Depending on what statistics you believe, there are anywhere between two and five percent of the population that are homosexual. Even if by some scientifically proven fact the rate happens to be lower in the NFL it would still be just that. Lower. That means that there are some NFL players in the present that are unable or unwilling to admit who they are because of the culture created around the game. The easily tweeted message from LeCharles Bentley is proof of that.
Maybe you are fine with that. I know a lot of people don’t think anyone’s sexuality should ever be anyone’s business regardless. Maybe you are satisfied with the militaristic “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies that have existed for quite a while. Still, when a former player who also happens to still be in the media feels free to tweet an anti-gay slur on Twitter to call out a former Cleveland Browns player, I think it at least deserves a little discussion.