It’s common practice for interested members of a professional team’s coaching staff to ask background questions to prospective players. Though all 32 NFL teams are more or less built the same, depending on which city its housed in or which behaviors an ownership group or front office prefers, there could be facets of an athlete, outside of his physical ability, that could prove to be important to whichever organization signs him or trades for him.
That being said, there are also sets of questions that, regardless of the answer, don’t have any bearing on whether or not a certain player will fit in with a ball club. A member of the Atlanta Falcons coaching staff asked one of those questions to Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Eli Apple at this year’s NFL combine, prompting the Falcons head coach, Dan Quinn, to release a statement apologizing for his colleagues actions. According to the account Apple gave to Comcast SportsNet’s Breakfast on Broad, a member of the Falcons coaching staff asked him “Do you like men?,” and it was one of the first questions he had for the NFL hopeful (you can watch the video clip of Apple’s admission above).
Earlier today, Quinn’s statement expressed the head coach’s “disappointment” in his colleague’s behavior.
I am really disappointed in the question that was asked by one of our coaches. I have spoken to the coach that interviewed Eli Apple and explained to him how inappropriate and unprofessional this was. I have reiterated this to the entire coaching staff and I want to apologize to Eli for this even coming up. This is not what the Atlanta Falcons are about and it is not how we are going to conduct ourselves.
Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in NFL history, had a one-word probe about the coach’s actions.
— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) March 4, 2016