For the most part, those in the football world with the grace to put a name to their comments have supported NFL defensive line prospect Michael Sam coming out on Sunday.
Then there is much-travelled CFL slotback Arland Bruce. Over his dozen years in the league with five teams, Bruce has often proven to be an entertaining personality and a world-class earth scorcher, who is as capable of drawing cheap heat with as he is at drawing double coverage. There has been his poorly conceived Thriller tribute after Michael Jackson's death in 2009, the Spiderman touchdown celebration in '08 and the time he briefly adopted the pseudonym Runako Reth. Synopsis: he can play, but he's a headache.
A lot of it has just been harmless exhibitionism, which is the province of pass receivers, the Lord Byrons of the gridiron. On Monday, though, the 36-year-old Bruce, when it would have been best to keep his mouth shut, used social media to direct a vile message at Sam. Tellingly, Bruce locked his Twitter account after sending the missive. Needless to say, it's a firestorm for the Canadian Football League.
Warning: it's not safe for work, and Bruce misspelled gay.
There have always been people who have been dogged about staying on the wrong side of history. Chances are, over his nearly 15 years in the CFL and NFL, Bruce has probably already had a teammate who is gay.
The CFL has fined players for social media gaffes before; Calgary slotback Nik Lewis has been dinged for criticizing game officials and a lead balloon of an O.J. Simpson/Nicole Brown Simpson joke. In 2012, halfback Avon Cobourne and defensive lineman Khalif Mitchell got in trouble for using derogatory ethnic terms while discussing the U.S. presidential election.
The league has the power to fine players for social media use that condone(s) harassment, discrimination or violence, are obscene or sexually explicit, or divulge proprietary information." Certainly, invoking God to justify one's presumed discomfort with the idea of a gay NFLer condones harassment when one thinks of how many times faith has been used while persecuting gays. (That said, Bruce does a disservice to the many believers who treat people who are LGBT with respect, and plenty of atheists struggle with homophobia). The slang references to female body parts are both sexist and sexually explicit.
Looks like CFL commissioner Mark Cohon has a fire to put out. It's ironic that Bruce, whose career testifies that you can get away with a lot if you can play the game, would fly in the face of the You Can Play principles. It also comes back on the CFL.
— Jason Knox (@KNOXTOX) February 10, 2014
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.