San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis was in New York City over the past week, making the rounds to discuss a variety of topics. Wes wrote yesterday about his guest appearance for The MMQB, and his questions of Roger Goodell at the Commissioner's annual "State of the NFL" press conference. He also spent some time chatting with Larry King on his show Larry King Now.
Vernon provided some basic insight into the post-game locker room scene after the 49ers lost to the Seahawks. He mentioned that Coach Harbaugh was extremely upset with the officials and the simple fact that the 49ers lost the game.
Davis also addressed Richard Sherman's remarks. He said he thinks Sherman is a good to go, but that he needs to learn to control his emotions a little better. He talked about how he is a different person off the field than on.
Davis said he thinks we'll see notable gay athletes in professional sports in the next five to six years, and that the NFL will be the first place we see it. I do think we see major gay athletes coming out in the near future. The NFL has done a lot in recent years to try and make such players feel welcome, with teams joining the "You Can Play" movement. Of course, then we see comments like those from Chris Culliver and it sets back the optimism a little bit.
At the same time, in December there was a report that two "key" members of the 1993 Houston Oilers were gay, and the entire locker room knew about it. I'm sure there have been other such instances where teammates knew or had an idea that certain players on the team were gay. But as some have said before, as long as the player(s) will help the team win, they don't care. I imagine there were players on the Oilers (or other teams) who had a problem with a given player's sexuality, but they did not raise the issue because they knew those players could help them win a Super Bowl.
And really, that's all it should come down to: can this player help the team win a Super Bowl. As the "You Can Play" slogan goes, "If you can play, you can play."
Vernon said that he's had three concussions in his career, and that while he does think about the long-term implications, he tries to stay positive about it, and hope for the best. He said he's hidden injuries because he has wanted to play and help his team. This is not overly surprising, and one reason the health issue is so complicated in the NFL.
I think the NFL has been at fault for a variety of things related to the health issue, but I do agree that there is also an issue with players trying to hide things. You can talk about forcing players off the field when they're hurt, but sometimes you just can't tell what's going on. It creates a difficult, complex situation.
In this segment, he talked about athletes deserving to get paid, particularly given the disadvantaged circumstances many come from. He said he didn't have as many issues when he was in college because he was mostly focused on his playing and getting to the NFL.
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