On CNN, BuzzFeed Sports Editor Calls for a Gay 'Jackie Robinson'

On CNN Wednesday, BuzzFeed sports editor Jack Moore called for a gay pro athlete to come out of the closet and be "a Jackie Robinson of this cause."

"It just shows that more than ever we need some major pro athlete to come out of the closet at the height – like while they're in the league," he ranted. "But we need a Jackie Robinson of this cause because we just need an example to show that, yeah, I can still play at the same high level," he added.

Moore was ripping NFL scouts who reportedly questioned a prospect about his sexuality. "This is so insane," he fretted, "The rest of the world is finally coming along on gay rights and the sports world is still stuck years before." Two others on the CNN panel shared Moore's frustration. How's that for intellectual diversity, CNN?

TV host Jennifer Hutt huffed, "When Jack said before about gay rights have to come farther, it's just rights. We're all the same whether straight, whether gay. I mean, everyone needs to grow up already."

Anchor Brooke Baldwin implied she wants times to "change" so gay athletes can be accepted. She played a clip of a former NFL player who came out after retirement and who said "I'm just trying now to teach people that you can be who you want to be and play any sport or do any career." Baldwin then asked "When do things change?"

SBNation contributor Bomani Jones ripped what he saw as the NFL's hypocrisy: "The problem with the NFL is that it appears that rather than to challenge what is discriminatory and what is obvious, their decision is, well we're going to keep somebody out of it because it would cause us too much stress."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on February 27 on CNN Newsroom at 2:52 p.m. EST, is as follows:

[2:52]

BROOKE BALDWIN: 40 yard dash, vertical leap, just a couple of the skills that NFL scouts are looking for during the NFL Combine going on this week in Indianapolis. But apparently scouts also want to know a little bit more than how many times a player can bench press 225 pounds. I want you to listen to what one prospect told ESPN Radio.

(Video Clip)

NICK KASA, University of Colorado NFL prospect: They ask you, like, do you have a girlfriend, are you married, do you like girls? Those kinds of things. And it was just kind of weird, but, you know, they would ask you with a straight face and it's pretty weird, a weird experience altogether.

(End Video Clip)

BALDWIN: Weird, he says. You hear that? NFL hopeful saying he was asked by a scout if he likes the ladies. The league told Yahoo! Sports it has no direct policy on the line of questioning teams can use, only that they adhere to employment laws. Still, is sexual preference now as relevant as a stat, like touchdowns, or interceptions? Jack Moore, I want you to start here. What is your reaction?

JACK MOORE, editor, BuzzFeed Sports: This is so insane.

BALDWIN: Insane?

MOORE: It shows a total disconnect between the sports world and the rest of the world. The rest of the world is finally coming along on gay rights and the sports world is still stuck years before. The Te'o situation, the first question was, obviously, like, is he gay? The big Katie Couric moment was are you gay? And the question is not even the problem. The problem is if the answer was yes, is that that big of a problem? It just shows that more than ever we need some major pro athlete to come out of the closet at the height – like while they're in the league. We can't keep waiting for guys –
 
BALDWIN: While they're playing and not afterwards.

MOORE: Yeah. But we need a Jackie Robinson of this cause because we just need an example to show that, yeah, I can still play at the same high level and I don't want to –

BALDWIN: I talked to Wade Davis recently. And I'll play that sound in just a minute. But it's interesting you bring up Manti Te'o, which according to Mike Florio with ProFootballTalk.com and NBC Sports, he's like that's the elephant in the room. That's why these scouts are asking are you gay or are you not? I'm not saying they're asking in that way. Listen to the sound, this is Mike Florio talking about Manti Te'o in this whole thing.

(Audio Clip)

MIKE FLORIO, editor, ProFootballTalk.com: Here's the elephant in the room for the teams. And it shouldn't matter, but we have to step aside from the rest of reality and walk into the industry, the unique industry that is the NFL. Teams want to know whether or not Manti Te'o is gay. They just want to know. They want to know because in an NFL locker room, it's a different world, it shouldn't be that way.

(End Audio Clip)

BALDWIN: But here is my question. Because I was thinking, is there a double standard? Because a lot of this took shape after 49ers player Chris Culliver, right? He made anti-gay remarks, I don't do guys in the locker room, something to that effect, made news, he apologized. NFL said hey, you're going to take mandatory tolerance training. At the same time, now we're hearing about scouts asking do you like girls? What is the deal?

BOMANI JONES, contributor, SBNation.com: There is a couple of things. There is a couple of things. One in these combine interviews they ask whatever they want to because they can. It is the unmitigated arrogance of the NFL and the players being young and thinking they have to put up with that stuff. That's the big reason why they ask. But when you start talking about sexuality and the teams asking, first of all NFL security probably has a good idea one way or another. They don't need to ask to truly find out. And then once they find out the answer, that has nothing to do with how the locker room is going to receive this, because it is not as if those guys, if they believe such a thing, are then going to go to the team and the team's going to say, hey, he told us he wasn't gay, he's not gay. Those decisions and those interactions are going to be done by themselves. The problem with the NFL is that it appears that rather than to challenge what is discriminatory and what is obvious, their decision is, well we're going to keep somebody out of it because it would cause us too much stress.

BALDWIN: It is a bigger picture question too in terms of being gay, as Jack brought up, being openly gay while playing, you're playing football or any other major sport, let's say that. I talked to Wade Davis, he came out last year, this is after he retired from playing. Here's what he told me.

(Video Clip)

BALDWIN: Why didn't you come out while you were playing?

WADE DAVIS: I didn't come out because I grew up with the ideology that I could never be a gay athlete, from the time I was 7 years old playing a game of football, I always thought that my sexuality and the game of football didn't mix. So I'm just trying now to teach people that you can be who you want to be and play any sport or do any career.

(End Video Clip)

BALDWIN: Jenny Hutt, you get the last word. When do things change?

JENNIFER HUTT, host, "Just Jenny": When Jack said before about gay rights have to come farther, it's just rights. We're all the same whether straight, whether gay. I mean, everyone needs to grow up already.

BALDWIN: Grow up already, let's end on that.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014