Incognito-Martin report says NFL must improve 'tolerant atmosphere' for gay players

Missouri's Michael Sam (52) sings the school song

Missouri's Michael Sam (52) sings the school song after Missouri defeated Indiana in a game on Sept. 21, 2013, in Bloomington, Ind. (Credit: AP / Darron Cummings)

While most of Ted Wells' independent report on the Miami Dolphins incident centers around the relationship between Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito, the report also states that the NFL must improve its tolerance and acceptance of gay players, especially in light of Michael Sam's announcement on Sunday that he is gay.

"Several NFL players have been vocal in promoting acceptance and integration of gay players into the league, and we believe that the NFL as an organization is committed to creating a safe environment in which a player can feel comfortable being open about his sexual orientation," the report states. "With the recent announcement by Michael Sam, a defensive lineman from the University of Missouri who is expected to be selected in the 2014 NFL draft, that he is gay, it is even more urgent that a tolerant atmosphere exist throughout the league. The frequent use of homophobic insults undermines this goal."

The Wells report details numerous examples of homophobic verbal and physical taunting aimed at Martin and an unnamed teammate, including an uncorroborated accusation that the unnamed player was the victim of improper physical contact. Since Sam's announcement, there have been hundreds of stories regarding the NFL's readiness for such an announcement, how players and coaches and front office officials will react, and what such news means for players past and future.

The Wells report concludes, "As all must surely recognize, the NFL is not an ordinary workplace. Professional football is a rough, contact sport played by men of exceptional size, speed, strength and athleticism.

"But even the largest, strongest and fleetest person may be driven to despair by bullying, taunting and constant insults. We encourage the creation of new workplace conduct rules and guidelines that will help ensure that players respect each other as professionals and people."

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