NFLPA: Ban Teams that Ask About Sexuality from Combine

Former LSU running back Derrius Guice said a team at the NFL combine asked if he liked men, and implied that his mother was a prostitute.
March 8, 2018, 4:37pm
Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski—USA TODAY Sports

The NFL combine is already a questionable meat auction—just from the physical challenges alone. But some teams have been known to take it to a whole level of psychological abuse that quite frankly this next generation isn't going to tolerate.

Take former LSU running back Derrius Guice. He was on SiriusXM Radio on Wednesday, and described an experience where a team asked him about his sexuality, and another team that implied that his mother is a prostitute—all just to get a rise out of him.

From the interview, per USA Today:

"’It was pretty crazy," Guice said in an interview on the SiriusXM NFL show Late Hits. "Some people are really trying to get in your head and test your reaction. ... I go in one room, and a team will ask me do I like men, just to see my reaction. I go in another room, they’ll try to bring up one of my family members or something and tell me, 'Hey, I heard your mom sells herself. How do you feel about that?’"

The NFL has been pulling these stunts for years during the combine—presumably as an attempt to see how prospective players can function under pressure. Most famously in 2010, then Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland asked former Oklahoma State and current Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant if his mother was a prostitute.

In 2016, the Falcons came under criticism for asking Eli Apple about his sexuality, and the league said they addressed the issue with an investigation. And while this interview tactic is questionable on its own, asking a player if they like men as an adverse question implies that being gay is a bad thing. Not only does a question like that step out of bounds as bigoted, but it also has potential legal ramifications, as football teams are, ultimately, employers and it could constitute a discriminatory hiring practice.

The executive director of the NFL Players Association DeMaurice Smith said that the team—which has not been identified yet—should be banned from the combine altogether. On PFT Live, Smith said:

“Find out what team did it and ban them from the combine. The question is inappropriate. Questions along these lines are always inappropriate.”

The Washington Post reached out to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, who criticized the question and said that the league was investigating the incident.

"A question such as that is completely inappropriate and wholly contrary to league workplace policies. The NFL and its clubs are committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all employees in a manner that is consistent with our commitment to diversity and inclusion, state and federal laws and the [collective bargaining agreement]. …

“The league annually reminds clubs of these workplace policies that prohibit personnel from seeking information concerning a player’s sexual orientation.”

Whatever measures the NFL is taking to reprimand teams that ask discriminatory questions are clearly not stacking up enough. This has essentially become standard operating procedure, and this specific question on sexuality has been asked twice in three years—and those are just the instances that we've heard about.