NFL Ignores Tuaolo Accolade

No other sport is more adept at self-promotion than the NFL. It markets its stars. It markets its teams. It markets its history. But, when it comes to acknowledging an achievement that doesn't conform to the status quo, the NFL remains ominously silent.

Last year, VU devoted a couple of days worth of coverage to the "outing" of former Viking Esera Tuaolo. Tuaolo, who played defensive tackle for the Vikings from 1992-96, went public last year that he was homosexual and the problems that caused in the hetero-dominated world of the NFL.

The reason for the coverage was that it was news -- Tuaolo made the network morning show circuit with his story and it was what fans were talking about.

But little to no coverage was given to the matter by the NFL-based media. So it came as some surprise, after spending this past week in Chicago surrounded by the local frenzy of the Cubs-White Sox series that I saw a note buried in the metro section of the Chicago Sun-Times. In a story talking about the annual Gay Pride parade that will shut down Michigan Avenue this morning, it was mentioned that "former NFL player Esera Tuaolo will be the grand marshal."

Nobody in the Chicago sports media mentioned this -- apparently the Sun-Times was too busy with a 40-page pullout section on the big baseball series. But, to my surprise upon returning to Minnesota, the local sports media had no mention of it. More troubling, was neither did

Anyone who has ever visited the league's official website knows that the NFL is diligent about getting out all news -- even when it's bad. When Jamal Lewis was implicated in a drug scandal, the site ran the story. In the dog days of June when NFL news is hard to come by, this could have been a story that was featured and handled with some sense of class and/or dignity.

Instead, the NFL decided the best approach was the "tree in the woods" scenario -- of nobody heard it, did it happen? It's hard to believe that nobody associated with the website didn't hear of this.

While I'm not saying the league is homophobic, if Tom Brady was the grand marshal of the St. Patrick's Day parade in Boston, you know it would have been headline news on the league website. Tuaolo's achievement is worth reporting. Maybe now we know why he kept quiet for so long.

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