Which Eagles and Phillies Are Gay?

No city loves its athletes more than Philadelphia. But would we still love them if …

I TALKED TO SOME 20 EAGLES PLAYERS about having a gay teammate. And I got the feeling, going around that locker room after practice, that I’d entered a time warp: Having a gay teammate would be troublesome for many Eagles—especially sharing the shower—but it was more than that. For many players it was, in fact, a brand-new idea:

“Never thought about it. Never happened.”

“That would be different.”

“Wow. I don’t know, man.”

Only one player, fullback Owen Schmitt, was certain that he’d ever had a gay teammate­—and that was in college. Though a few realized that, yeah, it probably was the case that they’d been tackled by and had sweated with and smacked the butt of and even got naked in the showers next to a teammate who was … gay.

Probably?

There’s no doubt that some of our prime Philadelphia sporting heroes—players we’ve rooted for over the years—are gay. A lot of them, in fact. Just do the math. A generally accepted rule of thumb suggests that 10 percent of the population is homosexual. There are more than 100 players currently on our four local pro teams. So it’s clear that whatever teams we get behind, some of the players we’re now applauding or booing are gay. Over the years, of course, thousands of athletes have graced the Philly sporting scene. Scores of them were undoubtedly gay, too.

We care so deeply about favorite players, especially from our youth: Mike Schmidt. Bobby Clarke. Reggie White. Julius Erving. And then we go right on rooting and caring: Mike Vick. Chase Utley. LeSean McCoy. It’s an intense connection we feel, even a shared identity. We may wear a star’s uniform jersey on big-game days. Or the kids do. Or our spouse.

But what if Julius Erving or Mike Schmidt or Shady McCoy were gay?

In fact, a recent Phillies player, a renowned womanizer, has been rumored to be quite interested in men. There are whispers in gay circles about him picking up men at Knock, a bar on Washington Square West, and taking them back to his condo. Phillies insiders still murmur about his bisexuality.

Imagine, then, that you find out who that player is. Imagine he is, in fact, one of your favorites, that his name is … Cliff Lee.

OHHHHH! NOOOOO! Not Cliff. It couldn’t be Cliff.

Well, you’re right. It isn’t Cliff. Cliff Lee is married, and there’s not a shred of evidence I’m aware of that he’s gay or bisexual.

But as you can see, this is tricky business, this meshing of the fantasy of our sports heroes and their actual lives. Woe to the athlete who reveals a piece of himself—a real piece—that simply doesn’t fit that fantasy. That, in fact, might destroy it. Is it any wonder gay athletes are so private?

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  • Dan

    The writer states that as a rule of thumb 10 % of the population is gay. Maybe he could of done a 5 minute google search and gotten a real number.

  • Rick

    I don’t know….I saw some pro athletes twirling around on the ice today and we all know those ice-twirlers are gay. So what if a bunch of ice skaters were making the moves on the other guys to get from first base to third base in the hope that they could score with another guy? Who cares if some pro player wants to make the moves on our star quarterback and get him in the sack? And what’s up with the big sweaty men piling on one another trying to grab the other guy’s ball? Yo!….Youse gotta wonder! Getta room! Isn’t it cute how a bunch of guys can sit close together in the down-low and slap the butts of their buddies as they enter the dugout? By the way, did anyone look up Broad Street yesterday and see all the guys, our Philly sports fans, in fancy dresses with feathers, dancin and struttin till their heart’s content? How cute was that? Yo Rocky, check out my sequins! Gay? Who cares? Isn’t it beautiful how everyone can…

  • Jessica

    This is a fascinating topic, and had the potential for an interesting article. Instead, it’s another example of poor journalism from Huber.

  • Jessica

    Utterly useless article, based on absolutely nothing other than speculation, and runs the risk of starting a proverbial witch hunt. Private lives are private, and to sensationalize one’s sexuality only furthers anti-gay sentiment.

  • Louis

    Just used to fill space where they couldn’t sell ad space.

  • Jane

    I’d much rather have Michael Vick on my team than a gay.

  • Allyson

    I agree with jea5008 and Anonymous. This article has no point and is a waste of space. Don’t the editors at Philly Mag read this stuff before it is posted/printed???

  • Natalie

    This article is nothing but 7 pages of gossip and useless rhetoric. Philly Mag can’t do better?

  • Natalie

    This article is nothing but 7 pages of gossip and useless rhetoric. Philly Mag can’t do better?

  • B

    St. Joes fans “chanted” Will Sheradon, how does dick taste? Really? That’s a new one. Now is it possible an idiot or two yelled it out? Sure…I don’t recall it, but that’s possible…but a chant organized and supported by the student body. I think that would have been in Big 5 lore for how ugly a chant it would be and we’d all know about it.

  • Troy

    There is no actual number you can just google. Because so many gay people are still closeted, estimates vary wildly. The generally agreed upon number is 10% in America. And while this article was full of rambling and rumor I still expected more support or at least apathy for openly gay athletes. I find the article and comments interesting even if fact-less and anecdotal.

  • Trix

    Good article, but can we stop quoting the one in ten number? Kinsey found at least a third of men had had “some” kind of same sex experience. But only about 5% of the population in Westernised countries will call themselves gay/bisexual.

    Not that it matters if it’s 5 or 10%, or those who are happy to scr*w another man if the opportunity arises. Bigotry is wrong. Being gay does not affect your athleticism. It is not illegal. End of story.

  • Michael

    Terrific article but I question the logic of 10 out of a 100. The sports world is and has been notoriously homophobic. Even if that stat holds up in the real world, I don’t think that it would hold up in the sports world. There’s no denying that there are more gay men in sports than most people would imagine but what’s applicable in the real world doesn’t apply to a microcosmic and very exclusionary setting.

    The pro-sports leagues are finally beginning to take action by fining players for homophobic slurs and making videos but we aren’t to the point, not even close, where an athlete would feel comfortable and safe coming out. We all saw what happened with the New Orleans bounty scandal…an out gay man in football would be a running target, who would be hit harder than his counterparts. I’ve been out since my late teens and think that it’s important to live an open and honest life. At the moment, however, I’m not sure that the mental/emotional spoils of living as an openly gay athlete would be worth the abuse he’d have to face. The leagues need to do more to allow openly gay athletes. Otherwise, I don’t suspect that there will be many out gays in sports any time soon.

    I dream of the day when young gay sports fan(and there are many, despite what you homophobes may think) has a Drew Brees or Halliday to worship. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening any time soon.