Some people still believe that the NFL is a “homophobic” monolith where it’s “dangerous” to be gay.
Despite Outsports chronicling literally dozens of pieces of evidence to the contrary, there’s a continued belief amongst some that NFL players would overwhelmingly reject a gay player if he came out. One Outsports reader recently claimed NFL players would try to kill that person.
Of course, this is ludicrous. So we set out to figure out how many current NFL players have already played on the same team with an out gay teammate. We found 39 current NFL players, who were on a roster for the 2020 season, who have already had an out gay teammate. Four of them will be playing in the NFC or AFC Championship Game this weekend.
In addition, dozens of other players have played against an opponent they knew to be gay.
Those gay athletes are all still alive today.
These 39 current NFL players have played with at least five gay or bisexual men who were out to their team while they were on the same team. Those LGBTQ men (with the years they were out on their teams):
Mason Darrow, OT, Princeton Tigers, 2015-2016
Scott Frantz, OT, Kansas State Wildcats, 2017-2019
My-King Johnson, DE, Univ. of Arizona Wildcats, 2017-2018
Michael Sam, DE, Univ. of Missouri Tigers, 2013; St. Louis Rams, 2014
Chip Sarafin, OL, Arizona State Sun Devils, 2014
Some of the players who played with these out athletes played in the same unit or similar positions. For example, Markus Golden played defensive end at Missouri behind Sam. Charles Harris redshirted that year but also would have been in meetings and learning from Sam, who went on to win SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Dalton Risner played on the Kansas State offensive line with Scott Frantz.
Of all the out players, Michael Sam has the most former teammates — 16 — still in the league (not surprising, given he was out throughout training camp with the Rams).
The Arizona Cardinals have the most players we know have played with an out gay teammate. At least six of the players on the Cardinals’ 2020 roster — about 10% of the team, — has already had a gay teammate they knew of. And they have collectively played in college with all five out gay players.
With that experience, solid veteran leadership, a coach in Kliff Kingsbury who has lauded gay football player Scott Frantz, and a front office that has demonstrated an embrace of LGBTQ people, it is easy to make the case that an out gay player with the Cardinals would be welcomed.
Of course many other NFL players have played with a gay or bi teammate before they came out (e.g., Dustin Colquitt played, and was good friends, with Ryan O’Callaghan), or played with a teammate who has come out privately but not publicly.
These are the current NFL players to have played with an out gay or bi man on their team (with that team and their current team listed):
Tavon Austin, St. Louis — WR, Green Bay Packers
Rams selected him No. 8 overall in the 2013 draft.
Quinn Bailey, Arizona State — OT, Denver Broncos
Bailey redshirted in 2014 with the Sun Devils. He’s played two games for the Broncos in two seasons.
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State — RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 2018, Ballage has 629 career rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
Daren Bates, St. Louis — LB, Tennessee Titans
Bates was on and off the active roster of the Titans in 2020.
Evan Boehm, Missouri — C, Free Agent
Was on the Jaguars practice squad in 2020.
Stephen Carlson, Princeton — TE, Cleveland Browns
Carlson has spent two years with the Browns.
Jared Cook. St. Louis — TE, New Orleans Saints
Two-time Pro Bowler, has been in the league for over a decade.
Dane Cruikshank, Univ. of Arizona — S, Tennessee Titans
Cruikshank was drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans.
Sean Culkin, Missouri — TE, Baltimore Ravens
Spent most of 2020 on the practice squad, playing in one game.
Cody Davis, St. Louis — S, New England Patriots
Has played in the NFL for eight seasons with three different teams.
Seth Devalve, Princeton — TE, Arizona Cardinals
A fourth-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2016, Devalve has four career TDs.
Jamil Douglas, Arizona State — OG, Tennessee Titans
Drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 2015, won Super Bowl LI with the Patriots in 2016.
Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Univ. of Arizona — DB, San Francisco 49ers
Flannigan-Fowles started 36 of his 50 career games at Arizona, before signing with the 49ers as a UFA in 2020.
D.J. Foster, Arizona State — RB, Arizona Cardinals
Signed by the New England Patriots as a UFA in 2016, winning Super Bowl LI with the team.
Garrett Gilbert, St. Louis — QB, Dallas Cowboys
Gilbert started one game in 2020.
Markus Golden, Missouri — LB, Arizona Cardinals
Spent 1.5 seasons with the Giants between his two stints with the Cardinals.
Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State — K, Arizona Cardinals
Cleveland Browns drafted him in the seventh round in 2017.
Matt Haack, Arizona State — P, Miami Dolphins
Haack has been with the Dolphins since he was signed as a UFA in 2017.
Charles Harris, Missouri — DE, Atlanta Falcons
First-round pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2017.
Johnny Hekker, St. Louis — P, Los Angeles Rams
Has been with the Rams since 2012. Named to four Pro Bowls.
Jesper Horsted, Princeton — WR, Chicago Bears
Two-time first-team Ivy League in college.
Lamarcus Joyner, St. Louis — S, Las Vegas Raiders
In seven NFL seasons Joyner has had four picks and a score.
John Lovett, Princeton — TE, Green Bay Packers
Used as a QB, RB and WR at Princeton, he was moved to TE and FB when the Chiefs signed him in 2018.
Matt McCrane, Kansas State — K, Cleveland Browns
McCrane played in the XFL last year before landing on the practice squad of the Browns.
Connor McGovern, Missouri — C, New York Jets
Drafted by the Broncos in 2016.
Rodney McLeod, St. Louis — S, Philadelphia Eagles
Helped the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title.
Mitch Morse, Missouri — C, Buffalo Bills
A second-round pick by the Chiefs in 2015.
Alec Ogletree, St. Louis — LB, New York Jets
He was second-team All-Pro in 2016 with the Rams.
Byron Pringle, Kansas State — WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Pringle has a Super Bowl ring with the Chiefs after being signed by Kansas City in 2018.
Damarious Randall, Arizona State — S, Seattle Seahawks
In three seasons with the Packers he had 10 interceptions and two touchdowns. In 2020 he was active for 10 games for the Seahawks.
D.J. Reed, Kansas State — CB, Seattle Seahawks
He’s had 10 career starts with two interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Caraun Reid, Princeton — DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Has played with seven different NFL teams since 2014.
Dalton Risner, Kansas State — OG, Denver Broncos
Risner was drafted by the Broncos in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s started all 32 games of his NFL career.
Duke Shelley, Kansas State — CB, Chicago Bears
The cornerback has started two games in his two NFL seasons.
J.J. Taylor, Univ. of Arizona — RB, New England Patriots
For the Patriots during the 2020 season, Taylor rushed in six games 23 times for 4.8 yards per carry.
Reggie Walker, Kansas State — LB, Arizona Cardinals
The linebacker was 2019 Honorable Mention All-Big 12. He was signed by the Cardinals in 2020 as a UFA.
Jace Whittaker, Univ. of Arizona — CB, Arizona Cardinals
Whittaker started all of his games with Arizona during his senior season in 2019. In his rookie season he played in four games for the Cardinals.
Renell Wren, Arizona State — DT, Cincinnati Bengals
Wren was a fourth-round pick in 2019. He redshirted his freshman year in 2014.
Greg Zuerlein, St. Louis — K, Dallas Cowboys
Named to the Pro Bowl in 2017.
If you think I’ve missed a current NFL player who’s played with an out gay or bi teammate, be sure to leave the information in the comments below.