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Minnesota Lawmakers Urge Vikings To Issue Harsher Punishment To Anti-Gay Coach

A group of 18 Minnesota lawmakers have written a letter to Vikings owner Zygi Wilf asking him to subject homophobic coach Mike Priefer to penalties harsher than those handed down last week following an investigation initiated by anti-gay claims made by former kicker Chris Kluwe. Priefer was suspended for three games and ordered to donate money to LGBT organizations. The Democratic politicians have called those disciplinary actions "inadequate" and also want the team to make the entire investigation public.

LawKARE 11, who interviewed one of those lawmakers, Rep. Frank Hornstein, reports:

"Racism, homophobia, discrimination in sports in unacceptable no matter where it comes from," Hornstein remarked. "And again, this should be taken much more seriously by the Vikings organization."

The letter was penned by Sen. Scott Dibble, a gay Minneapolis legislator and chief author of the Freedom to Marry Act in the Senate in 2013, which opened the door to same-sex marriages in Minnesota.

"This remark was outrageous when you stop and think about it," Dibble told KARE. "Can you imagine someone saying the same thing about any other minority group? People shouldn't joke about genocide and get away with it."

In his letter to Wilf, Dibble pointed out that L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA and ordered to sell his team for making racially charged remarks to a female friend.

The letter reads in part:

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511e54061970cIt bears remembering that the taxpayers are contributing nearly a half billion dollars to build a new stadium for the Vikings, allowing a considerable boost in its revenues. It is also important to make note of the fact that Minnesota taxpayers are being asked yet again to contribute to the bottom line of an already very profitable industry with $10 billion in revenues, in the form of continuing a sales tax exemption on ticket purchases for the NFL’s 2018 Super Bowl. In light of this enormous public effort, it is imperative that your organization be held accountable. This is especially true when it would seem that Vikings leadership is turning a blind eye to such egregious misconduct and seems determined to remain opaque to the very public which has invested so much in the success of your team. 

You can read the full letter here.

The Vikings issued the following response:

As a result of the findings, we have taken the appropriate actions to hold individuals accountable and to ensure we continue to have a workplace environment that respects tolerance, diversity and inclusion. We have addressed this matter completely and are unable to comment further due to pending litigation.

Watch the KARE 11 news segment, AFTER THE JUMP...

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David Tyree To Wade Davis: 'I Would Support A Gay Player'

WadeThe newly named director of player development for the New York Giants, David Tyree, a former National Organization for Marriage (NOM) spokesman who has a history of making anti-gay remarks, reportedly told Wade Davis, Executive Director of The You Can Play Project, he would support “any player on the Giants who identified as gay, in any way [he] could.” According to NBC Sports, Davis shared Tyree's disclosure on his blog, TheMMQB.com. Davis, a former NFL player himself, recently opened up about his experience living in the closet while being a professional football player. 

Towleroad readers will remember that Tyree attracted attention for his remarks on marriage equality, saying equality would signal “the beginning of our country sliding toward…anarchy” and that it would “be the moment our society loses its grip with what is right.” A previous advocate for gay conversion therapy, Tyree also once said that, "I don't want my kids to think homosexuals are normal.” 

TyreeDavis says he has engaged in an extended conversation with Tyree, one he says suggests that Tyree has already changed his views on many issues having to do with the LGBT community. Davis admits that he was not at first inclined to cut Tyree any slack for his previous anti-gay remarks. However, upon meeting Tyree at an event to educate players, coaches and management on LGBT issues, Davis was caught off guard by how he was greeted:

He approached me, introduced himself, offered his hand and said, “I want you to know I really respect what you do.” After having the opportunity to speak with David, I realized he is on a journey when it comes to understanding the LGBT community. He is evolving. Just as my mother did. Just as some of our most well-known supporters did. Just as I did.

During the current media firestorm surrounding Giants’ hiring of David, I paused to reflect on my initial resistance toward him and asked myself, Can we create the space for all individuals to evolve? […]

6a00d8341c730253ef01a3fd37ca54970b-300wiLet me be very clear: I am not defending the hurtful things David said in the past. Nor am I saying his journey is complete. I am strongly defending his right, his ability, and most importantly his apparent willingness to grow as a person. And I will be working closely with him to help him along on this journey. I am hopeful that the outcome will be a positive one.

I spoke with David last night, and he asked me to quote him in this piece. He said, “My interactions with Wade over the past few months are much more representative of my current beliefs toward the gay community than some tweets from several years ago. Christianity teaches us love, compassion, and respect for our fellow man, and it is in that light that I will continue to work with Wade and others to better serve the gay community. I would absolutely support any player on the Giants who identified as gay, in any way I could. And I will continue to stay in touch with Wade to ensure I am aware of the right ways to do that.”

As I come to learn more about David and begin a deeper friendship with him, I’m going to talk to him about the serious and vile treatment that is conversion therapy—of which he has been a vocal proponent—and how those words have been the source of destruction for many LGBT individuals. But those honest and productive conversations can’t be had without first building a foundation for a relationship to rest on [...] We will be able to talk about how to support LGBT players. We will be able to talk about how his faith encourages him to be loving and inclusive of the LGBT community. We will be able to talk about why the things he has said were so hurtful to so many people. We will, simply put, be able to talk to each other despite our differences. And we will be able to support each other as we continue to do the most important work, the work that we must do on ourselves.

You can read Davis' full post on Tyree HERE


New York Giants Hire Anti-Gay NOM Spokesperson David Tyree as Director of Player Development

Tyree

Towleroad readers will know former New York Giant David Tyree from a series of posts back in 2011 in when he became a spokesperson for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

GiantsHe has now been hired by the Giants as the director of player development.

Said Tyree in a video for NOM in 2011:

“Marriage is the only relationship that actually mirrors a relationship with God — it’s very unique in that way...If they pass this gay marriage bill...what I know will happen if this does comes forth is this will be the beginning of our country sliding toward...anarchy...That will be the moment our society loses its grip with what is right...I don't believe that truth is subjective...If you redefine [marriage...it changes the perception of what is good, what is right, and what is just..."

Tyree later went on to say that he would trade a Super Bowl win to stop gays from marrying and expressed concern for his kids:

 "I don't want my kids to think homosexuals are normal."

Tyree is also an advocate for gay conversion therapy, NJ.com reports:

His more divisive views -- like somebody can change their sexual identity through therapy --- came to light via a series of Twitter messages from 2011 first reported by NJ.com.

"I'll never be a former black," Tyree tweeted in June 2011. "I have met former homosexuals. That's the truth."

The tweets -- along with his crusade for years against gay marriage -- drew a strong rebuke Tuesday by the Human Rights Campaign, both in a response to an inquiry from NJ.com and in a press release Tuesday evening.

“When did Tyree decide to be straight?” asked Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a news release. “The idea that someone can change their sexual orientation or gender identity is ludicrous, and the New York Giants are risking their credibility by hiring someone who publicly advocates this junk science. His opposition to basic legal equality aside, David Tyree’s proselytizing of such dangerous practices goes against the positive work the Giants organization has done in recent years.

The Giants said in a statement that Tyree "was expressing his personal view, and that is not the view of the Giants organization."

Watch Tyree's video for NOM and an ESPN report on the hiring and backlash, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Michael Sam Responds to Tony Dungy's Remarks with Grace and Humility: VIDEO

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Michael Sam reacted on Tuesday to remarks made by Tony Dungy this week suggesting that he wouldn't have drafted Sam because the Sam's sexual orientation would have been a distraction. Dungy later clarified his remarks and said that Sam should "absolutely" have the opportunity to play in the NFL.

Sam was asked about the remarks by reporters and responded with grace and humility:

Said Sam: "Thank God he wasn't St. Louis Rams' coach. But I have a great respect for Coach Dungy, and like everyone in America, everyone is entitled to their own opinions."

Sam was also asked if he would be surprised "if that pops up from time to time, that somebody disapproves?"

"It is what it is," said Sam. "What you gonna do about it? My focus is on making this team. I'm excited to be back with the guys. Football is fun."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Tony Dungy Clarifies Michael Sam Remarks, Says Sam 'Absolutely' Deserves NFL Opportunity

Dungy

Former NFL coach-turned-NBC analyst Tony Dungy released a statement on Tuesday clarifying remarks that made headlines this week in which he suggested that he would not have drafted Michael Sam because of his sexual orientation.

Dungy released the statement to ProFootballTalk which reads, in part:

I was not asked whether or not Michael Sam deserves an opportunity to play in the NFL.  He absolutely does.

I was not asked whether his sexual orientation should play a part in the evaluation process.  It should not.

I was not asked whether I would have a problem having Michael Sam on my team.  I would not.

I have been asked all of those questions several times in the last three months and have always answered them the same way—by saying that playing in the NFL is, and should be, about merit.

The best players make the team, and everyone should get the opportunity to prove whether they’re good enough to play.  That’s my opinion as a coach.  But those were not the questions I was asked.

What I was asked about was my philosophy of drafting, a philosophy that was developed over the years, which was to minimize distractions for my teams.

I do not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization.

I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction.  Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction.

Read Dungy's full statement here.

Keith Olbermann released a commentary last night ripping Dungy for his remarks and naming him the "world's worst person".


Openly Gay Former NFL Player David Kopay Remembers His Scandalous Coming Out, Celebrates Michael Sam: VIDEO

DavidKopay

In 1975, David Kopay became the first NFL player, current or former, to come out publicly in the Washington Star. It was a stunning moment for sports, and he later revealed even more--including a one night stand with former Redskin player Jerry Smith--in his memoir, The David Kopay Story. Now, nearly forty years later, Kopay is one of many who are welcoming Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL, with open (but concerned) arms. 

The Hollywood Reporter recently wrote about Kopay's experience:

"I was desperate," he says. "I was totally, 'What am I going to do with my life? Can I make a difference?' " He'd hoped his tale...would encourage other pro athletes to come out. But years turned to decades and few had followed suit. Meeting Sam, the gifted defensive end who shattered the last civil rights hurdle in pro sports when he kissed his boyfriend after being drafted by the St. Louis Rams in May, came as more than just a passing thrill. It was the culmination of a life's work.

One need only consider current attitudes toward gays in sports -- when a celebratory kiss between men can result in an uproar -- to grasp just how shocking Kopay's admission was for the 1970s. And yet somehow his remarkable story has faded over the years. According to columnist Will Leitch, founding editor of Deadspin, that largely is due to Kopay being eons ahead of his time. "I think it was honestly too early," says Leitch. "It was 1975. In four years, Al Pacino would be making Cruising. People were not ready for an NFL player being gay at all."

DavidKopay2And neither were Kopay's family and friends. Married at the time, he got divorced and was excommunicated by his Catholic mother; she left him with the kind parting words, "I created you and I can kill you." Kopay moved to San Francisco, rubbing shoulders with Harvey Milk and living with Armistead Maupin, then to Los Angeles where he has lived since.

Kopay swims laps daily at nearby Occidental College, regularly hits the Rose Bowl flea market and enjoys attending NFL alumni games and serving as honorary ambassador to the Gay Games. He lives alone, his garage lined with memory boards filled with photos of debauched days spent in New Orleans. Whenever he speaks of past loves, they are invariably of the unrequited kind.

It is understandable then that Sam's decision to kiss his boyfriend after receiving his draft call would dredge up proud but conflicted emotions for Kopay.

"I was a bit unnerved," Kopay admits of watching Sam plant a passionate smooch on boyfriend Vito Cammisano, the pair later smearing cake on each other's faces. "I'm old school, you know? Certainly I felt he had a right to kiss his boyfriend and I was really glad he did. But I was not so happy with the cake in the face. It was a little bit over the top. I just worried about him like, 'Oh, what's the fuss that this is going to cause?'"

Hopefully relatively little, and Kopay seems to admit that he is of a different era. He also took the first, and perhaps bravest step of all.

"I think it was the first brick removed from the wall of homophobia," says Cyd Zeigler, the co-founder of Outsports.com. "When Kopay came out, the gay community was just beginning to find its identity. For a portion that didn't associate with the stereotypical gay identity, Dave's honesty was life-changing. I'm sure it saved lives."

Check out an interview with Kopay, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Openly Gay Former NFL Player David Kopay Remembers His Scandalous Coming Out, Celebrates Michael Sam: VIDEO" »


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