Kerry Rhodes’ professional career has been in question ever since the NFL free agent safety became caught up in a gay scandal with his former assistant, Russell “Hollywood” Simpson. Though Rhodes, who has remained silent about the scandal, remained hopeful that he would be signed to a new team in the months after the scandal, it appears as though the highly regarded NFL vet may be getting pushed out of the game.
Earlier this month, Rhodes told AL.com that he had contract negotiations in the works.
“It’s in the works,” he said. “I can’t talk about it in depth but there are a good four teams that I’m looking at. There are ongoing discussions. I’m trying to see which one will be the best fit for me. You will see me, though.”
However, as New York Times writer Viv Bernstein notes, training camps throughout the NFL have opened up this past week Rhodes is nowhere to be found.
According to NFL.com, the 30-year-old safety is an eight-year veteran who just came off a strong season with the Cardinals, starting 15 games, finishing with four interceptions, two forced fumbles and a sack. ProFootballFocus.com even ranked him as the league’s No. 4 safety in 2012.
Rhodes, who never came out as gay, is having his career derailed because of Simpson’s allegations that he and the NFL star were in a committed relationship. The debate over LGBT athletes in pro sports has seen a major push in the media in the past several months as several athletes, like Jason Collins, another free agent who became the first active NBA player to reveal he’s gay, have come out as gay, trans or bisexual. Several heterosexual athletes like Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo have come out in support of LGBT players. Although lesbian athletes like Brittney Griner have found success after coming out, none of the male pro sports teams have signed an outed athlete yet.
Considering the way athletes and sports fans across the globe are embracing LGBT athletes, we’d venture to say that signing a gay player would not only boost the NFL’s historically homophobic image, but it would also serve as a much-needed message to all aspiring athletes that they have a place in the world of pro sports.
Check out some LGBT athletes who seemed to struggle after coming out below. – nicholas robinson