Rob Gronkowski: Gay teammate OK

Updated: March 31, 2013, 9:22 AM ET
By Field Yates | ESPNBoston.com

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said he would be accepting of a gay teammate.

"I got this question before, about a year ago, and I basically will say the same answer that I did a year ago," he said Wednesday in an interview with Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco on ESPN Radio New York, when asked how the Patriots' locker room would receive an openly gay player. "You've got to accept the player. Everyone has their own ways to live their life and as long as he's respecting me, keeping distance, respecting myself, I'll respect him back.

"If he's being a great teammate and he's a guy on the field doing a great job, well then you've got nothing to complain about. He's another teammate and another friend."

In an interview at the ESPYs last July, Gronkowski offered a similar response.

"If that's how they are, that's how they are," he told Outsports.com. "I mean, we're teammates, so as long as he's being a good teammate and being respectful and everything, that's cool."

In a follow-up question Wednesday, Gronkowski was asked if he believes his teammates and other NFL players would share his sentiments.

"I'm not really sure," he replied. "I never went around asking players on my team or in the NFL, 'Hey, what would you think if someone on our team is gay? How would you take it?' I never thought of that, and never asked anyone that and never tried to find out if there is [a gay player] on the team.

"If someone is on my team and they are a great teammate and a great player on the field, helping the team win -- that's all you've got to ask for."

No active NFL player has publicly come out as gay, although a report from CBSSports.com this week states that a current NFL player is "strongly considering" doing so. Former NFL defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo revealed he is gay in 2002, some three years after he retired from football.

Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita is among the NFL players who have been vocal in casting support for a gay teammate, and he recently filed a brief in California supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples. He wrote an essay preaching acceptance of others in The New York Times last week.

Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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