SBD/April 25, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Sets New Sexual Discrimination Policy After Push From New York Attorney General

Goodell will issue an information sheet with strong words against discrimination
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman yesterday announced that "new efforts are in place with the NFL to make sure that players currently in the league and those about to enter the NFL in this week's draft are protected from discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation," according to Bob Glauber of NEWSDAY. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that he "met with Schneiderman to discuss the situation last week, and that the attorney general had agreed with him that the NFL's policies are sending the right message to both players and teams" (NEWSDAY, 4/25). In N.Y., Judy Battista noted Schneiderman's office "asked for a meeting with league officials to discuss the matter and after those meetings, the NFL decided" it would send out an information sheet reinforcing the policy "in the next few weeks." Goodell in the information sheet makes "perhaps his strongest public statement on inclusion regardless of sexual orientation: 'Discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation is not consistent with our values and is unacceptable in the National Football League'" (NYTIMES.com, 4/24). Schneiderman said that the NFL will "display posters in locker rooms that communicate the league's anti-discrimination rules, and all 32 teams in the league will undergo training, including the people involved in hiring and recruitment." REUTERS' Atossa Araxia Abrahamian noted the NFL also will "improve methods for reporting harassment and will check in periodically with the attorney general's office to track its progress" (REUTERS, 4/24).

INTERNATIONAL APPEAL: In Atlanta, Michael Cunningham notes after a "record five international prospects were selected" in last year's NFL Draft, "as many as five could be selected in the first two rounds" this year. The league's efforts to "market the game around the world could get a boost from this recent group of foreign-born players." The "top international prospects" are DE Ezekiel Ansah (Ghana), DE Margus Hunt (Estonia), DT Jesse Williams (Australia), DE Bjoern Werner (Germany) and OT Menelik Watson (U.K.). The group is "unique among international players because all are highly rated prospects, and none are kickers." The "common thread among all except Werner is their rapid rise from football novices to legitimate professional prospects." Still, it is "not clear if the recent influx of international players in the draft is the start of a long-term trend." Most of the "top foreign-born prospects in this NFL draft stumbled into football from other sports" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/25).

MIXED MESSAGES: FOXSPORTS.com's Alex Marvez noted former players from "all 32 franchises will announce second- and third-round picks" tomorrow night at the NFL Draft, and nine of them are "among more than 4,100 former players suing the NFL for head injuries allegedly suffered during their playing days." By participating in draft proceedings, they are "welcoming college players into a league they claim was negligent in diagnosing concussions and head trauma during their own playing days" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/24).
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