Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told FoxSports.com on Wednesday he believes that NFL players and coaches would be accepting of an openly gay player, but he's not so sure fans would feel the same way.
"I don't think the locker room would have any problem with it," Arians said in a telephone interview with the website. "The problem would be with the fans. I think especially opposing fans. Some of the things that are said are over the top and out of control that I can imagine what some fans would say to an openly gay player."
League spokesman Greg Aiello told USA Today Sports in April that the NFL would be prepared to monitor inappropriate fan reaction to an openly gay player.
"Our league and team security people would be ready to monitor any kind of public reaction that might not be appropriate, including scrubbing social media," Aiello said. "We would assist the player in dealing with any adverse public reaction of any type, if there is any. Hopefully there wouldn't be and it would be a non-issue, which it should be."
Arians has a supporter in former NBA star Charles Barkley, who appeared on the "The Mike Missanelli Show" on 97.5 The Fanatic Philadelphia.
"I 100 percent agree with Bruce Arians. I'm glad he had the courage to say that because a lot of coaches kiss up to the people but I respect it, I gotta thank him for when I get back to [Arizona]," Barkley said.
For the first time, the NFL Rookie Symposium will include speakers on the issue of sexual orientation, the league's chief human resources officer, Robert Gulliver, told ESPNNewYork.com on Tuesday.
The league plans to have former players, whom they are calling ambassadors, speak about the possibility of having a gay teammate and how to talk about these issues publicly, Gulliver said.
Gulliver said the league doesn't expect one of its players to be on the verge of coming out, but in the wake of Jason Collins' decision to come out to Sports Illustrated in April, sports leagues are preparing players with the goal of having a harassment-free workplace.
"I would not be surprised if there are more players coming out," Gulliver said.
As part of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, the NFL has a formal policy against harassment when it comes to a player's sexual orientation.
Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Jane McManus was used in this report.