ALBANY – New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is warning the National Football League that it was illegal for team representatives to ask several prospects at the recent NFL Combine about their sexual orientation.
Schneiderman is also calling on the NFL to formulate specific standards to ensure those kinds of incidents involving NFL prospects do not happen again.
It was not immediately clear what legal standing Schneiderman may have in the matter, though the National Football League is headquartered in New York State.
“From the Scouting Combine to the playing fields, everyone deserves equal protection under the law and the right to a fair workplace,” Schneiderman said, adding that he hopes he can work with the NFL “to send a powerful message that employment discrimination will not be tolerated in any form.”
Various media reports say that three prospects – the University of Michigan’s Denard Robinson, Michigan State University’s Le’veon Bell and Colorado’s Nick Kasa – said they were asked questions at the Combine last month in Indianapolis that they felt were intended to see if they were gay or straight.
One of the players was reportedly asked if he liked girls and if he had a girlfriend.
The NFL has said it is investigating the inappropriate – and in many states, including New York, illegal – questioning.
The NFL Players Association, which has said its contract with the league also prohibits such questioning, has suggested punishments for the teams involved.
“I know that the NFL agrees that these types of questions violate the law, our [Collective Bargaining Agreement] and player rights. I hope that they will seek out information as to what teams have engaged in this type of discrimination and we should then discuss appropriate discipline,” DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the players’ union, told USA Today Sports.
In a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Schneiderman today called on the league to clarify its position “by issuing a public statement that any form of discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation by League teams or their employees or agents against potential recruits or players constitutes a violation of state, local and in some cases contractual law, and will not be tolerated.”
Schneiderman offered Goodell the help of his office in drafting a formal written policy on the matter.
“We will be seeking a meeting with the League staff supervising your investigation of the incidents reported by prospective players,” Schneiderman said of the incidents at the Combine last month.