Hines Ward: NFL not ready for openly gay player

Nick Laham

Toeing the line between news and opinion, Ward's comments come right as Behind The Steel Curtain is set to release an exclusive interview with Ward, where the subject of homosexuality in the NFL did not come up.

NBA player Jason Collins revealed to the world earlier this week he is gay.

I'm trying hard to keep this a news piece, but it's essentially impossible. Stating for the record, for the 10,000th time, Jason Collins is gay doesn't seem worthy of space here. Sometimes news is opinion, though, and we find in today's media culture, that's the way it works.

Former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward made news with his opinion. In speaking to NBC Sports Radio Tuesday, he was asked about Collins, and if he sees someone in the NFL following suit.

Per Pro Football Talk: "I don't think football is ready, there's too many guys in the locker room and, you know, guys play around too much," Ward told Erik Kuselias earlier today on NBC Sports Radio.

I'm bringing this up as context, as Behind The Steel Curtain will be running a story based on an exclusive interview with Ward Wednesday. This topic did not come up, although asking that question had been debated.

We've decided to make mention of them together in an effort to cover both the interview with Ward and comments he made later in the same space without presenting the impression Ward was asked about this topic on the record with this publication.

The issue comes down to relevance. I didn't feel it was a relevant topic to what readers would want to know about Ward - we focused on his thoughts on the current team, the selection of another former Georgia Bulldog in the first round, his training regimen for the triathlon he's participating in and even his thoughts on working alongside oft-savaged PFT founder Mike Florio.

At the same time, considering this bit of news came out literally two hours after the interview was concluded, I'd be remiss not to point out the question was intentionally avoided. It also isn't in keeping with our general vision of discussing news in a level-headed and community-focused manner.

While it's fair to label me as self-serving and conveniently hiding behind a mantra to avoid asking a question that was certainly relevant for the time, I accept that criticism, but point to several other previous interviews where questions of the non-softball nature were lobbed at the subject - all of whom are at or above hero status within Steeler Nation.

We also recently avoided writing anything in regards to a Tweet posted by former Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace and his reaction to Collins' announcement.

Perhaps the fact Wallace would make such a statement publicly is what Ward is referring to when he says the NFL isn't ready.

People have the right to their opinion, and their opinion-based rebuttal to the opinions of others. Ward's opinion doesn't suggest he's for, against, neutral or on the fence about a player in the NFL being openly gay. He just says the league isn't "ready for it," in his opinion. Wallace's comments are also of his opinion, and show a general lack of understanding about the subject. They're unrelated, and irrelevant to the story we wish to tell about Ward based on the interview we had with him.

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