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Old 07-17-2006, 02:36 PM
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Default Homophobia met head on at Rookie Orientation

By Jim Trotter
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

July 2, 2006

The nature of the question wasn't surprising. The ignorance behind it was.

Esera Tuaolo, a nine-year defensive tackle who disclosed he's gay two years after retiring in 2000, was appearing at the NFL's annual Rookie Symposium on Monday, the featured speaker at a session titled Diversity & Tolerance Training.

During one of his talks with four groups of 60 or so players, Tuaolo was asked if it's OK to call a gay man a derogatory term. Tuaolo started to answer, then stopped and looked around the conference room at La Costa Resort and Spa.

“The majority of the players were just shaking their heads like, what an idiot,” Tuaolo, 37, said later. “One guy, to tell you the truth, was like, 'I'm glad you're not on our team.' It started out as a negative thing, but it turned out to be a positive thing, if you know what I mean.”

Tuaolo said the question and the intent behind it confirmed that homophobia remains an issue in the NFL. But he quickly added that the response of the majority of the players was affirmation that the league has made progress on the issue.

Chargers quarterback Charlie Whitehurst was in the room when the question was asked, and he called it an “ugly” scene.

“I have tremendous respect for the guy,” Whitehurst said of Tuaolo. “He was kind of living a lie there for a long time, and I guess he had to do it. It definitely must have been tough for him. I think the majority of the players really took to him and accepted the fact that – one thing you learn quickly in the NFL is you don't question anybody who's been there and done it as a player, no matter what it is.”

Tuaolo was Green Bay's second-round draft choice in 1991. He played for five teams over nine seasons, most of them with Minnesota, appeared on one all-rookie squad and participated in the 1999 Super Bowl with Atlanta.

He kept his sexual orientation secret during his career because, he said, he was afraid teams wouldn't accept a gay player. He still believes that's the case, although he said his presence at the rookie symposium is a sign of progress.

“One of the things I wanted to tell the young men is that I'm not here to convert you,” Tuaolo said. “That's the big perception. . . . I told them I'm here to educate you on some of the issues that I faced while being in the NFL and (about) homophobia. I said that anytime you use a word that degrades a human being, it's wrong. . . .

“Homophobia is one of the taboo things in the NFL to be talked about, and I'm just very encouraged that the NFL has included the issue in its diversity program. They definitely can't say it's not there, because here you have a player that plays for nine years in the National Football League, from starter to nonstarter, whatever, and every single time the topic of homosexuality would come up in the NFL when I was there it was never a pretty sight. It was always negative.”

Tuaolo praised Mike Haynes, the league's vice president of player and employee development, for working to bring Tuaolo to the symposium. Since assuming his role four years ago, Haynes has promoted tolerance in every form, be it music, clothing, cultures, backgrounds or sexual orientation.

“Mike Haynes is an incredible man,” Tuaolo said. “He's why this happened. He wants to make a change for the better and he wants to include all issues. That's very promising. We've already had discussions about next year.”

Tuaolo's appearance at La Costa happened to coincide with the recent incident in which Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen called Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti a derogatory term for gays. Tuaolo said the incident supports his contention that professional sports have a long way to go in that area.

“It's amazing to me even nowadays how people don't get it,” he said. “The thing about it is, when he tried to apologize, he tried to say, like, in my country it means something else.”

Guillen is a native of Venezuela.

“Well, you've been in this country for (a lot of) years,” Tuaolo said. “ . . . If you're going to do an apology, then be sincere or sound sincere. It's amazing. It's all about eliminating the negative words.”

That was the theme of Tuaolo's message to the rookies.

“I don't care if it's in a joke,” he said, “because there might be somebody like myself who hears those things, and even with me being as big as I am (295 pounds) and stuff, it hurts.”

http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports...1s2tuaolo.html



Edit:I also read somewhere on pft, that Lendale White was the player who asked him that question
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Last edited by Boltman19; 07-17-2006 at 02:40 PM..
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Old 07-17-2006, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Chargers quarterback Charlie Whitehurst was in the room when the question was asked, and he called it an “ugly” scene.

“I have tremendous respect for the guy,” Whitehurst said of Tuaolo. “He was kind of living a lie there for a long time, and I guess he had to do it. It definitely must have been tough for him. I think the majority of the players really took to him and accepted the fact that – one thing you learn quickly in the NFL is you don't question anybody who's been there and done it as a player, no matter what it is.”
Yet more proof that our organization only drafts stand-up guys. A lesser man might have been compelled to snicker along with the rest of the crowd. It shows maturity and dignity on Charlie's part and that shows a lot of excellent drafting qualities on our scouting department's part.
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Old 07-17-2006, 02:41 PM
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Haha, I was thinking that too
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Old 07-17-2006, 02:43 PM
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I'm so one-minded. I read a whole article about tolerance and only think about how it relates to our team. Ah well...
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Old 07-17-2006, 03:12 PM
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It's been reported that the guy who asked the question that led to the "ugly scene" was none other than Lendale White, RB from USC.
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Old 07-17-2006, 03:19 PM
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Personally, i don't care if there is a homo in the NFL, just as long as they did what this guy did and announce it after retirement. I would feel ackward being tackled by him. Because we know players are cheapshotting eachother in the piles, but if I knew someone was gay my mind would go from cheapshotting to "OMG he is trying to touch me" LOL. But thats just me.
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Old 07-17-2006, 03:21 PM
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Don't ya think they workout, train/live close enough to West Hollywood to adjust a little better than that???
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Old 07-17-2006, 03:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeMcRugby
It's been reported that the guy who asked the question that led to the "ugly scene" was none other than Lendale White, RB from USC.
he should have turned around and asked white.. "is it OK to call a black man a derogatory term." maybe then he would have realized what a bone head question that was.
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Old 07-17-2006, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bolt4Life
Personally, i don't care if there is a homo in the NFL, just as long as they did what this guy did and announce it after retirement. I would feel ackward being tackled by him. Because we know players are cheapshotting eachother in the piles, but if I knew someone was gay my mind would go from cheapshotting to "OMG he is trying to touch me" LOL. But thats just me.
That's kind of a silly, junior high attitude.

Lendale White just continues to distinguish himself as a fine, upstanding citizen.

Regardless of anything else, the fact that White, a rookie, would hurl an insult at a nine-year vet just shows how clueless he truly is, if in fact it was Lendale White who made the comment.
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Old 07-17-2006, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mshawn
That's kind of a silly, junior high attitude.

Lendale White just continues to distinguish himself as a fine, upstanding citizen.

Regardless of anything else, the fact that White, a rookie, would hurl an insult at a nine-year vet just shows how clueless he truly is, if in fact it was Lendale White who made the comment.
No rookie should be saying anything bad towards a vet. Especially when you weren't the starter on your team (USC I think?). and if thats "silly attitude", would you want to get tackled over and over by someone you know might think your hot, and is not a chick >.<? Ya, my point exactly.
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