Former NFL player: Unlike the NBA, ‘football isn’t ready’ for a gay player

A former NFL player and Super Bowl MVP, has spoken out on the news that NBA star Jason Collins had come out as gay, and said that “football isn’t ready”, for openly gay players.

Hines Ward said that he was fully supportive of gay players being able to come out and be themselves, but that he thinks not all players currently in the NFL would feel the same.

Speaking to NBC Sports Radio on Tuesday, Ward said he thought the time wasn’t right for a gay player to come out in the NFL , reports the LA Times.

“I don’t think football is ready,” Ward said “There’s too many guys in the locker room and, you know, guys play around too much.”

Ward, who retired before the 2012 season, went on to say that, when an NFL player does come out, they will have his full support.

“Hopefully one guy comes out of the closet and [will] be comfortable with himself,” he continued.

“I don’t have anything against a gay football player or a gay person period, so if he does, he has support from me. I want people to live their lives for who they are and don’t have to hide behind closed doors to do that.”

The NFL this week sent out a document, which reminded teams and players that the league has a nondiscrimination policy, and said that “any jokes, comments or pranks”, around a player’s sexuality constitutes harassment.

A former NFL player and Super Bowl Champion, this week had a speaking appearance cancelled by a church over a congratulatory tweet he sent to Collins.

Mike Wallace, an NFL player for the Miami Dolphins, took to Twitter to respond to Collins’ revelation, noting that he personally found women attractive, and suggesting that being gay is a choice. He later apologised for the tweet.

Last week, the NFL agreed, in an unprecedented move, to better protect gay players against discrimination and harassment.

Alan Gendreau, a gay American footballer has expressed hopes of being drafted by an NFL team, and could be the first openly-gay player the industry has anticipated for some time.

Ayanbadejo earlier in April said he knew of four gay NFL players who were looking to coordinate coming out, in order to face any potential backlash together.

Other reports have suggested that, for several years, a currently active NFL player has been openly gay to many teammates, and coaches.