The NFL took place in Indianapolis at the end of February, and in the aftermath several players have said they were asked questions about their sexual orientation during interviews with NFL teams. Now, the New York Attorney General has issued a statement asking the NFL to investigate the claims, which would be illegal if proven true.
As the Associated Press reports, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a letter Thursday. "We ask that the league immediately issue a statement," he writes, "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."
All week long in Indianapolis there were rumors of teams asking--or wanting to ask--about Manti Te'o's sexual orientation, and while Te'o denied the questions afterward, Colorado tight end Nick Kasa told ESPN Radio that at least one team asked, "Do you like girls?"
As the AP reports, college stars like Denard Robinson and Le'veon Bell reported similar questions during their interviews, and all of it could be considered inappropriate at best and, in at least 20 states, an illegal line of questioning in any job interview. It also violates the NFL collective bargaining agreement.
Schneiderman asked for an explanation from Roger Goodell by next week. For the league's part in all this, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello has already indicated that the league is looking into it. In a statement from February (via AP):
"Like all employers, our teams are expected to follow applicable federal, state and local employment laws," the NFL said in a Feb. 27 statement. "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. Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline."
As Aiello added in an e-mail to Fox Sports, NFL officials will meet at the March 18 owners meetings in Arizona, where they "“intend to review best practices to ensure teams fully understand their obligations under the law and (Collective Bargaining Agreement)."
But for a sport and league that's not exactly known for its enlightened culture, the statement from Schneiderman and the added media scrutiny from this year's combine could be a helpful push toward a more serious look at the questioning that happens at the combine every year. Because seriously, if the rumors are true, it's time for NFL scouts to join the 21st Century.