Statement From A.G. Schneiderman On Openly Gay Player Michael Sam Entering NFL Draft

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today issued the following statement in response to the announcement yesterday by National Football League draft prospect Michael Sam that he is gay. 

“No American should face barriers to professional advancement because of their sexual orientation, whether as a teacher, a judge, or a professional football player. That’s why my office worked with the National Football League last year to encourage a culture of inclusion and reinforce its policies barring discrimination based on sexual orientation against both current and prospective players. In light of the historic news that former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam will be the first openly gay player to enter the NFL Draft, I am hopeful that the additional measures taken by the NFL, in cooperation with my office, will ensure that his civil rights, and the civil rights of all NFL players, will be protected.”

Michael Sam, the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, is widely expected to be drafted in to the NFL in the 2014 Draft, and would become the NFL’s first openly gay player. 

Last March, in response to reports that prospective players at the NFL Scouting Combine were asked questions related to their sexual orientation, Attorney General Schneiderman called on the NFL and its franchises to take strong action to ensure the league and all of its teams do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation against players and recruits.

Following discussions between the NFL and Attorney General Schneiderman’s Civil Rights Bureau, the NFL undertook new actions to reinforce its policies against discrimination based on sexual orientation, including the development and dissemination of posters to be displayed in locker rooms throughout the league conveying the NFL’s anti-discrimination policies. The NFL also took steps to distribute the policy to all 32 teams in the league, conducted training across the league around the policy – including for rookies and individuals involved in hiring and recruitment of new players – and strengthened protocols concerning the reporting of complaints of discrimination or harassment by players.

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