…will undoubtedly provoke responses asking when the league will have it’s first openly gay football player. As a society, we’re moving (albeit slowly) towards a moment in history when discrimination on the basis of sexuality is no longer acceptable in any workplace, let alone NFL locker rooms. Discrimination against kickers, however, might continue, if the following excerpts by Outsports’ Cyd Ziegler’s “Coming Out Kicking : Openly Gay Former College Kicker Tries For The NFL” are anything to go by.
In many ways, a place-kicker could be the perfect next step for gay visibility in the NFL. It’s the position on a team furthest removed from other players, not part of the offense or defense, but rather the “special” teams unit. A place-kicker only steps on the field for a handful of plays. Some former football players, like former 12-year offensive lineman and current ESPN personality Mark Schlereth, have long taken potshots at kickers, saying they’re not even football players.
“They’re considered screwballs by the pro football establishment,” the legendary Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman wrote of place-kickers in his “Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football. “On TV you might hear CBS’ Pat Summerall say, in his low-key way, ‘Well, they are different.’”
Like a lesbian basketball player, a gay kicker plays to a stereotype. In a sport defined by hard hits and toughness, only on rare occasions — if there’s a broken play — does the kicker hit or get hit. Bill Gramática famously ended his 2001 season with a torn ACL after simply jumping to celebrate a field goal for the Arizona Cardinals.
“We’re a quirky bunch,” Michael Husted, the former NFL kicker, admitted.