US: NFL player starts controversy by tweeting a gay ‘joke’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

An NFL football player in the US has been the subject of heavy criticism, after tweeting a joke which was considered by many as homophobic.

Brandon Spikes, a linebacker for the New England Patriots, an NFL team based in greater Boston, sent a joke out to his followers on Twitter, Wednesday, offending some fans, and causing others to jump to his defence.

He tweeted: “I’m homophobic just like I’m arachnophobic.I have nothing against homosexuals or spiders but I’d still scream if I found one in my bathtub !”, the Boston Herald reported.

A debate quickly heated up between fans and followers, many of who Tweeted responses, some jumping to the defence of the football player, and others condemning him for what was deemed a homophobic joke.

He responded to a tweet from Twitter user, GridironRats, which said “really dude? Love you as a player, but kill the joke-telling,” with a message which simply read “Bite Me !!!”.

Some critics even went so far as to say that the linebacker should be suspended for the tweet. User, Aldenmorris, said: “Your homophobic jokes make me as a New England Patriots fan for most of my life ashamed. I hope the Patriots suspend you.”

A couple of hours after sending the original tweet, Mr Spikes tweeted in response to his critics, saying: “Lmao these guys are sensitive” followed by: “PEOPLE !!!! It’s a joke … seriously a JOKE !!! Chill out”

Other NFL players have been more active in getting involved in debates such as that over equal marriage.

The latest in a series of his public defences of why equal marriage should become law saw Chris Kluwe, a player for the Minnesota Vikings, reference the bible.

The Baltimore Ravens’ Matt Birk has reiterated his opposition to equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in a new video for the Minnesota Catholic Conference.

Fellow Baltimore Ravens player, Brendon Ayanbadejo was also the subject of a controversy, when a state delegate wrote to his team asking them to discipline him for supporting equal marriage rights.

All of this comes just a month ahead of votes in four states on whether or not equal marriage should become law.

Voters in Washington, Maine and Maryland will be voting on marriage equality on November 6. At the same time, Minnesota voters will choose whether to make a constitutional amendment which would define marriage as only between one man and one woman