The Kansas City Chiefs’ Larry Johnson is enjoying an unpaid vacation right now in light of recent statements that were seemingly designed with the specific intent to anger everybody in the team’s organization. Because hey, if you’re mired in the worst season by a starting running back in NFL history, why not alienate everybody in the process?
Johnson’s agent, however, chose an unusually peculiar tack in his client’s defense. After Johnson started calling disagreeable Chiefs fans “fags” - multiple times - and earning a suspension for his efforts, agent Peter Schafer responded in the most reasonable way imaginable. Just kidding, he expressed shock and amazement that you couldn’t call people “fags.”
TMZ spoke with Peter Schafer — who is also Johnson’s lawyer — who explained:
“We know the N-word is unacceptable, that’s not disputable — but f*g? I’m learning that there’s a segment of our society that finds it offensive and that it should not be used. I didn’t realize that, but I do know now…“
Really? Really? Never in your years of working alongside the NFL - or any sport, really - did the rampant homophobia become evident? Never managing PR for these athletes did public statements dissing people as gay raise any red flags? Does Schafer not actually know what “fag” means?
Fortunately, Esera Tuaolo is here to help. The first openly gay former NFL athlete had this to say to the USA TODAY:
Tuaolo, a defensive lineman who played in the league from 1991-99 and revealed he was gay after retiring, told the Kansas City Star there is a community of gay players in the NFL who are unable to reveal their sexuality because of what he says is a culture of intolerance in NFL locker rooms.
He told the paper that more than 10 of the league’s nearly 1,700 players are gay and that he converses with many of them. “I’m not going to tell you how many,” he told the Star. “The guys who are in contact with me … and there are others who are anonymous.”
Tuaolo said what makes Johnson’s remarks so unacceptable is that they breed a culture that turns a players’ sexuality into a negative connotation.
“What is also crippling to an athlete is hearing slurs like that thrown around like it’s just the thing to do. When you use (gay slurs) and you use it in a negative term, it’s the same as calling a woman a (expletive). Or the same as calling an African-American the (expletive). It’s demeaning to another human being. And it’s not right.”
NFL players seem to exist in their own bubble at times, but someone who’s a lawyer and agent really has no excuse for not realize that you can’t go around calling someone a “faggot” without serious consequences. His quick 180 with TMZ - paraphrased, “boy, I’m sure learning about these gays!” - smacks of insincerity, and a grown, professional man ought to know better in this day and age.