Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas was interviewed by the New York Post and was asked for his take on the Michael Sam story. Instead of following the generally positive response Sam has received around the league, Thomas decided to break rank and say he didn’t think the locker room was ready for a gay player.
He also said that he didn’t respect Sam’s decision, stating, “I don’t believe in it, I don’t respect it, but if that’s what you want to do, so be it,” but let’s put a pin in that part of the interview for a moment.
“I think the biggest thing is going to be in the locker room,’’ said Thomas, a cornerback and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent. “Not on the football field, not on the practice field but in the locker room where guys are walking around naked, guys are joking, the way coaches talk, the way players talk, you have to be careful what you say because you don’t want to offend anybody.
Players cannot walk around naked? Where have we heard that one before? More than twenty years ago when female reporters were first let into the locker room so they could do their jobs as journalists. That was more than two decades ago and football has not only survived, the NFL has thrived, well on its way to reaching the $25 billion dollar target it set for 2027. Players adapted. The locker room adapted, even if there have been blow ups from a few jerks from time to time. If you want to go back even further, you can discuss how it must have felt for Kenny Washington of the Los Angeles Rams in 1946 when he was not allowed to stay with his teammates when the team travelled or when racial slurs were used against him on the field. Football survived and became better with his inclusion, not his exclusion. Locker rooms managed to stay locker rooms when racial minorities were allowed in.
Thomas also doesn’t seem to realize that anyone with any sort of a job in the 21st century has gone through employee sexual harassment and office sensitivity training.
“Some team will have to hire a company to educate us and make sure we’re saying the right thing,’’ Thomas said. “All the extra stuff you have to go through, all the extra meetings, that’s something as veteran players we don’t want.
Thomas might have to say the “right thing” based on current work place laws and might have to take a class on such issues? Every retail worker, sales rep, insurance broker, bank teller, computer software designer goes through the same training when they start a new job in the modern world. It’s the law in California, where Thomas spends his offseason, that all supervisors have to go through such training to create a better workplace. Does Thomas really think that he’s going to play football for the rest of his career and never be faced with such training? No, he’s already looking at his post-NFL career in the media, taping with the Sklar Brothers, Fox Sports and HGTV. Just a tip Thomas, word is the Bristol sexual harassment training is not to be taken lightly.
You’ll note Thomas didn’t complain about having to learn about financial responsibility, professional conduct and career development at the rookie symposium during those extra meetings. Those meetings may have benefitted him in some way as not to seem burdensome.
Hidden at the bottom of the Post interview though is something more telling:
There is also the religious component Thomas did not really want to delve into.
“Me being a follower of Christ and a strong Christian obviously that’s a sin and I definitely don’t believe in it,’’ he said. “I don’t care to comment on it any more. You start bringing religion and politics into football it just gets ugly.
The New York Post left it at that and a similar ESPN interview didn’t touch on religion when Thomas expressed his opinion to them on Sam, but faith has to be a part of Thomas’ issue with a gay man in the locker room.
See, just a few days ago on his Instagram and Twitter accounts Thomas already brought his religion into football, encouraging his fans to join him at the Oasis Church in Los Angeles.
For those who don’t live in Los Angeles, the Oasis Church might just seem like another one of those non-denominational, hippie churches where everyone sings and clap their hands while singing folk songs about Jesus.
But Oasis actually has a darker side, offering “recovery” help for “Same Sex Attraction Men” in their invitation to, “Come find freedom from past hurt, habits and hang ups.”
There it is, a recovery for gayness as if being LBGTQ needs a cure. Oasis even serves free BBQ for dinner for their recovery groups, which as we all know, is the manliest of man foods. (Although it does seem a little insensitive to those there for “Food Issues Women” meetings.)
A visitor to Oasis even blogged about their upsetting encounter LBGTQ issues during service:
But there is something that did upset me a little. As a part of this special service they had what they called Cardboard Stories, like Cardboard Confessionals in a way. Music played while members of the congregation walked up with giant pieces of cardboard that had writing on the front side that explained something bad in their life where they felt like they weren’t accepting Jesus in their life. Then they would flip the cardboard and the backside would say what they did to change this in their life and how Jesus and God have saved them. At first I thought this was a great idea. Here are some paraphrased examples of what was written on the boards.
Front side: “8 years being aroused by homosexual thoughts.”
Back side: “Living pure for nine months and looking for a wife.”
Even the largest “pray the gay away” group has laid down its arms against the LGBT community.
So take all of today’s flood of hot sports takes over Terrell Thomas statements about the locker room not being ready for a gay player with a grain of salt. Terrell Thomas is not ready for a gay player. The locker room will survive.