This figures to be a monumental week for gay rights in the United States, as the Supreme Court will review the issue of same-sex marriage for the first time.
And while the matter plays out on the nation's largest legal stage over the next few weeks, it may also make headlines on the nation's largest sporting stage, the NFL.
Mike Freeman of CBS Sports wrote Monday that sources have told him that a gay NFL player is considering coming out over the next few months:
"Based on interviews over the past several weeks with current and former players, I'm told that a current gay NFL player is strongly considering coming out publicly within the next few months -- and after doing so, the player would attempt to continue his career."
Interestingly, sources told Freeman that the player's concern is not with the reaction of his teammates or other NFL players. Rather, he is more worried about how fans will take the news. And according to free agent linebacker Scott Fujita, who recently penned an essay in the New York Times promoting marriage equality, a gay player coming out wouldn't cause as much of a stir amongst NFL players as some people think it would.
"I honestly think the players of the NFL have been ready for an openly gay player for quite some time now," Fujita told Freeman. "Trust me, the coming out of a player would create much bigger waves outside the locker room than inside. The way I've seen the conversation around LGBT issues evolve, especially in the past few years, has been encouraging. Guys are more accepting than they used to be."
Fujita is one of several high-profile football players to take a stand for gay rights. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brandon Ayanbadejo, who plans to be at a rally on Tuesday in front of the Supreme Court, was one of the first players to voice his support for gay rights. Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has also been a strong advocate for the issue.
For his part, Ayanbadejo said he thinks an NFL player will come out soon, but he did not reveal a date. In a recent interview with USA Today, Ayanbadejo said he thinks a baseball player will come out before a football or basketball player.
"I think it will happen in baseball sooner than in football or basketball," Ayanbadejo said."The reason I say that is because I think there is less of a connection to religion in baseball. The religious roots are a lot deeper in basketball and football. With that being said, I think baseball players are more open minded."
NFL teams were criticized last month when several college players said that, during routine interviews, they were asked about their sexual orientation. Since then the league has announced that executives will meet with groups representing the gay community to review its policies.
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