NY Attorney General Calls on NFL to Investigate Whether Draft Picks Were Asked, Illegally, About Sexual Orientation

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is calling on the NFL to investigate whether potential recruits at the recent NFL Combine were asked, illegally, about their sexual orientation, the AP reports.

Kasa"We ask that the league immediately issue a statement that any form of discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation by league teams or players against potential recruits or players constitutes a violation of state, local and, in some cases, contractor law and will not be tolerated," Schneiderman said in a letter dated Thursday and released to news organizations.

Schneiderman asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to call him by next Wednesday to schedule a meeting on the matter.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league was already looking into the issue and would discuss it at its meeting next week in Phoenix.

The request comes following remarks in late February by prospect Nick Kasa, a senior at the University of Colorado, to ESPN radio. Kasa said that recruiters at the NFL Scouting Combine asked him questions like, ‘Do you have a girlfriend?’ Are you married?’ Do you like girls?’.

The NFL released a statement at the time:

“Like all employers, our teams are expected to follow applicable federal, state and local employment laws. It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process. In addition, there are specific protections in our collective bargaining agreement with the players that prohibit discrimination against any player, including on the basis of sexual orientation. We will look into the report on the questioning of Nick Kasa at the Scouting Combine. Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline.”

Said Hudson Taylor, Executive Director Athlete Ally, in a response to Schneiderman's letter:

“We have seen how important leadership from the Commissioner's Office is when it comes to gay inclusion in sports. It was former commissioner Paul Tagliabue who worked diligently behind the scenes to include an anti-discrimination clause based on sexual in the collective bargaining agreement. Now, with the call for the league's policy to be more fully articulated, we are confident Roger Goodell, who maintains a public track record supporting gay rights issues like anti-bullying, will make this part of his legacy as commissioner.”


  1. EchtKultig says

    Oh…God. Just like the “helpful” mayors who were going to kick Chick-Fil-A out of their town, we now have a politically correct overreaction. Really, I don’t give a rat’s arse, in fact for the NFL to foreground even the possibility of a player being gay is probably a bizarre form of progress. (It would be different if a real employer were asking real potential employees, like, I dunno, Wegmans) The NFL has already said it won’t happen again, haven’t they? And, it’s so-called professional sports for chrissakes. None of these recruits have been living under a rock and playing college sports at the same time. They know the territory; being asked if you’re gay can’t be worse than teammates using the f- word for 8 years.

  2. EchtKultig says

    Although, my instinct earlier was to attribute the whole thing to a kind of ruse. (i won’t rehash my reasoning) The attorney general might be getting played exactly how he was intended to be played.

    The NFL clearly sees which way the wind is blowing (these are smart people – the owners that is) and kind of wants to have it both ways. Many of them probably are homophobes, but, by being given the opportunity to seem contrite about the whole thing; they can see, “see, we aren’t really _that_ homophobic in the NFL.” And if, gasp, a gay player ever slips through, they can seem to homophobes to have been covering their bases. Well played, NFL!

    As I pointed out before and remain quite convinced, no recruiter would actually have thought Nick was gay. I found a couple interviews with him; everything says “American straight men would find him straight as an arrow”. (notably, this is not the case with the Tebow). So, why find the straight but probably semi-liberal recruit and ask him this, if it wasn’t to create a controlled media stink in the first place? They didn’t ask some hayseed from Texas because they know someone like that would take offense.

  3. carlie says

    I fail to see the distinction between ‘real’ potential employers Wegmans and potential NFL employers. By your reasoning, Wegmans applicants also know that the workplace is a heterosexist (and racist, among other things) so they should be protected either.

    Besides, it’s against the NFL’s own rules to ask, but it happened. The NFL has a history of not enforcing its own rules and should be pressured (by Congress, actually) to follow its own rules because of its government-granted antitrust exemptions.

  4. Strepsi says

    The NFL’s policy is actually irrelevant: it is State employment law that prohibits even asking certain questions.

    I do not know about New York, but I believe here in Quebec it is illegal to ask many things of a potential employee, from sexual orientation to political affiliation to marital status…

  5. EchtKultig says

    My point is being a professional football player just isn’t the “real world”. 99.9% of jobs are; and of course there should be protection against discrimination for the rest of us. Even doing back office work for the NFL. But being a pro sports player is some strange kind of semi-autonomous entertainer, or actor even, in a world that is deeply tied to the heterosexist Weltanschauung of middle America. Most people like professional sports precisely because the players reify a kind of heteronormative, heroic archetype. None of which is to say a gay man couldn’t make a great football player, or hasn’t in the past. Either known or unknown. (I’m sure some are still in the closet even after their deaths) But, because we know someone who acts like Christian Siriano is – at this point in society’s evolution – never going to make it to an NFL combine, I don’t think we even have to worry about full-on discrimination of the type you have to worry about for the 99.9% of other jobs. IIRC It’s already illegal, even in states where it isn’t illegal to discriminate against gays, to ask about marital status.

    So, given that that is true, how do we expect the NFL to deal with a deeply closeted player? I’m not saying asking is actually permissible, I’m just saying in the grand scheme of things, it’s not as dastardly as some people assume it to be. There’s a subtle phenomenology to questions: To ask is not to ask and disallow, it’s just to ask. Some posters here naively thought “maybe they are looking for a few gay men!” LOL. Well, of course they weren’t, but my point is they might be aware it could be interpreted that way. The Manti Te’o fiasco (hey it rhymes!) probably woke them up to the fact that…wow…we need to deal with this sooner rather than later. Better get people thinking _we_ aren’t living under a rock on this one. This was a relatively pain-free way to do that, that offends everyone a little, rather than any one group a lot.

    Again, the fundamental issue here is Nick doesn’t seem gay at all. This is either a ruse; or a case of a crazy or closeted recruiter who went “rogue” with the wrong progressively-minded pot-smoking giant cutie from Colorado. Because in the latter case he was so overwhelmed by Nick’s hotness he couldn’t stop thinking about teh gay, or in the former (crazy) he thinks homosexuals are the next pink menaces or something. The timing of the whole thing is just a little too convenient, after Manti-gate. Obviously, many guys would have just kept quiet about, Nick didn’t. Why tell the media unless you’re a) straight and not closeted and b) find it ethically offensive to have been asked.

  6. EchtKultig says

    Strepsi the combine actually took place in Indiana, which surely doesn’t care if gays are discriminated against. I guess NY thinks it has jurisdiction because the NFL has presence in the state? But the recruiters themselves surely act as indie agents, paid 1099…so that’s a losing argument. More likely a politician sees an easy issue on which to grandstand and gain a few points with an important constituency.

  7. BobN says

    “I don’t think we even have to worry about full-on discrimination of the type you have to worry about for the 99.9% of other jobs”

    Yeah, because why would we think there’s any anti-gay discrimination in a league with hundreds of players, not a one of them out of the closet?

    Your analysis that discrimination in this field doesn’t matter because the players are sort of independent actors and fabulously compensated doesn’t make sense if discrimination in recruitment prevents one from even getting to be a player at all.

  8. David Hearne says

    How does choosing a football team differ from casting a movie? Casting directors make employment decisions which aren’t permitted in other employment settings. They choose actors not simply for ability, but also for type. NFL is entertainment. I’m not saying I approve of them trying to exclude gay players, but I could see a path of justification if they wanted to weasel around it.

  9. Kyle says

    @ECHTKULTIG The notion behind “Nick doesn’t seem gay at all” is profoundly stupid. Nick Kasa reported as examples of weird questions “Do you have a girlfriend?”, “Are you married?” and “Do you like girls?” We don’t actually know the context of the “Do you like girls?” question. It sounds like *a lot* of questions were asked and scouts were just covering bases.

    Moreover, it’s a dumb assumption that scouts would fish out homosexuals (if that’s what they were indeed doing) by only asking “gay-seeming” prospects. “Do you like girls?” is a pretty natural question of any guy after he answers “No” to both whether’s married or has a girlfriend.

  10. Michael says

    Give me a break. If you don’t think that guy looks gay you need to take your head out of your ass. He is most definitely a pretty boy and pretty boys always dig other pretty boys. And all I can say about the possibility of him being gay is, “I f’n hope so.”

  11. Drew says

    Although I love to pretend all pretty-boys might be gay, most are just narcissistic and in the end (no pun intended), don’t have a penchant for other men.

  12. EchtKultig says

    I don’t know what world you come from. Maybe teenage boys (or men who never intellectually progress beyond those years) ask each other “do you like girls” semi-rhetorically. In any situation where there’s an imbalance of power, like adult/child, teacher/student, recruiter/prospect, etc. it is absolutely a question that is ONLY asked to query about homosexuality. And is either pejorative or transgressive, or a mix of both. I was only asked this a couple times, by aging womanizers who thought I was a f-g. Why? Society still assumes everyone is straight, to ask such a question is to unnecessarily (unless you’re accusing someone of being gay) challenging that assumption. It would be like asking a hulking man “are you a natural blond?” It’s a question that unambiguously casts an aspersion. As I pointed out, if Nick had been an oaf from Appalachia, we might assume he’d be unable to interpret a humorous asking of the question that was just friendly banter. It’s highly unlikely that someone from an upscale suburb of Denver wouldn’t “get it”; what’s more likely, as I pointed out, is that he found it ethically, rather than personally offensive. In other words, he realized someone was seriously asking him if he was gay; he clearly isn’t, but he doesn’t think someone should have been asking that anyhow. Even if it were just a fluke, rather than a ruse, it’s a small sign of progress that a potential NFL player thinks that way.

    Michael, sorry, all the pretty straight boys aren’t gay. I remember once hoping that…are you 15 years old, or something?

  13. Gabe R L says

    In my experience and observation Michael is correct: The pretty boys do at least almost always like other pretty boys, though not necessarily all other boys. If people think they are mostly ‘straight’ it is because they hide it well. Drew and Echtkultig are wrong.

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