The Manti Te’o Situation was only a few hours old when one noted national commentator made Twitter reference to “the elephant in the room”. I surmised he was referring to something other than Brian Kelly’s sudden bout of camera/microphone shyness, and over the past couple of days, the whispering (well, yelling) campaign has picked up steam. On Thursday evening, Sirius/XM’s Dino Costa declared that was at least a “50/50 chance” Te’o was homosexual, a remarkable bit of speculation given that Costa has famously claimed to have never witnessed sex between men. Costa has hardly been alone in his line of questioning however, leading WFAN/CBS radio writer Jason Keidel to declare, “there are enough problems with Te’o or his story, or both, upon which we can feast without the bile and bigotry we’ve heard on WFAN the last two days.”
Listening to WFAN host Mike Francesa on Thursday and Friday, the callers’ collective homophobia is stunning. The idea that a man fabricates a girlfriend to cloak his homosexuality is an alarming leap in logic.
“He don’t wanna say he’s light in da sneakers!” someone actually said to Mike on Friday afternoon.
Really? New Yorkers, normally an enlightened bunch from sports to politics, are using the gay slur as a spear. Sure, there are gay men in football uniforms from high school to the Pro Bowl, and there’s a reason they won’t reveal their sexual preferences in public. But Te’o is in a thorny portal that is entirely unrelated to matters of sexual orientation.
Lord knows that there’s enough stench around this story to warrant a hazmat suit. There’s no need to resort to gratuitous, bigoted barbs that can only dumb down the dialogue and reboot the rampant progress we’ve made as a society.
To paraphrase Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofsky (or Eddie Scozzare), “Thorny Portal? I thought they closed that place down.” But with all due respect to Mr. Keidel, who deserves credit for having the guts to criticize the listeners of his station’s top rated program, this is probably the first and last time anyone has called Mike Francesa’s callers, “normally an enlightened bunch”.