Why some athletes are willing to take a stand... - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Why some athletes are willing to take a stand...

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Cleveland (WOIO) - It takes a special athlete to take a stand on volatile issues. Many believe there's just too much to lose. That certainly seemed to be the case with Michael Jordan, who, back in 1990, during MJ's heyday as the most influential, powerful athlete on the planet, refused to voice his support of Democratic civil rights leader Harvey Gantt over Republican incumbent Jessie Helms in North Carolina's Senate race. Jordan's stinging, and very telling, quote? "Republicans wear sneakers, too". In other words, Nike sales meant more than social change.

Money probably wasn't on the minds of Joe Haden and Josh Cribbs on Thursday night, when we caught up with the two Browns leaders at the Auto Show, but both still juked our question quicker than an oncoming Steeler. It wasn't about politics, or religion, or women's rights. It was about gay rights, or, more specifically, the issue of an NFL locker room accepting an openly gay teammate. Neither Cribbs nor Haden would touch the topic.

Interesting, since earlier in the day, their teammate, Scott Fujita, the Browns player representative (ironically enough), had gone on a local radio show and said that yes, absolutely, the Browns would accept a gay teammate. Overwhelmingly, he added.

So, why did Haden and Cribbs run from the topic? As I've stated in a previous blog, NFL players already know if they have a gay teammate, and that hasn't destroyed a team. Maybe Haden and Cribbs don't want to know. Maybe they believe anything they say will be embraced by some, scorned by others. Most likely, it's just out of their comfort zone. But that's the point. The difference-makers in history left their comfort zones, for issues and changes worth fighting for. Scott Fujita, fresh off a 10-month witch hunt called Bountygate, has experience in that area.

Maybe that's why he took a stand.

As I said, it takes a special athlete.


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