INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The federal government prohibits employers from making hiring decisions on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, disability, veteran status, national origin, age, political affiliation and genetic information.
About 20 states, including Colorado, also prohibit hiring decisions on the basis of marital status or sexual orientation. The federal government, however, does not.
Neither does Indiana, which was convenient for the 32 teams at the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis this week, especially those who were interviewing former University of Colorado football player Nick Kasa.
The combine serves as a showcase for prospects ahead of April’s NFL Draft, at which hundreds of college football players make the jump to the professional ranks. Before teams make decisions about which players will join the NFL, they subject prospects to a variety of physical and mental tests at the combine.
That process includes interviews with individual teams.
Kasa, a senior tight end for the the Buffaloes, told ESPN Denver that he was asked several peculiar questions by at least one NFL team during that interview process.
“They asked, ‘Do you have a girlfriend? Are you married? Do you like girls?'” Kasa said. “Those kinds of things.”
When jokingly pressed by radio host Nate Kreckman about his answer to the “Do you like girls?” question, Kasa replied, “I do. I love girls.”
But what if his reply had been different?
After hearing comments from Kasa and Chris Culliver, a current member of the San Francisco 49ers, that’s a question many in the national media are now asking.
Before this year’s Super Bowl, Culliver made it seem as though gay men would not be welcome in the 49ers locker room.
“I don’t do the gay guys man,” Culliver said during a radio interview with comedian Artie Lang just days before the game, according to Yahoo. “I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up out of here if they do.”
The recently-concluded Manti Te’o girlfriend controversy is making the sexual orientation question even more timely. Shortly after the turn of the new year, it was revealed that the Notre Dame linebacker’s supposedly-dead girlfriend was, in fact, a living man.
Following those reports, Te’o has repeatedly refuted suggestions that he may be gay. According to NBC Sports’ Mike Florio, those public statements likely wouldn’t prevent Te’o from getting some point-blank questions about his sexuality at the combine.
“It shouldn’t matter, but we have to step aside from the rest of reality and walk into the unique industry that is the NFL,” Florio told NBC’s Dan Patrick. “Teams want to know whether Manti Te’o is gay. They just want to know. They want to know because in an NFL locker room, it’s a different world. It shouldn’t be that way.”
To be fair, this isn’t the first time an NFL team has be criticized for a combine interview question — not by a long shot.
Perhaps the most-heavily scrutinized question came in 2010, when Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland infamously asked wide receiver Dez Bryant if his mother was still a prostitute.