The Atlanta Falcons have apologized for asking draft prospect Eli Apple if he likes men.
Apple, a former Ohio State cornerback, told CSN Philadelphia the strangest question he received at the scouting combine was from Falcons defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel, who asked the prospect about his sexuality.
“The Falcons coach, one of the coaches, was like, ‘So do you like men?’ It was like the first thing he asked me,” Apple said. “It was weird. I was just like, ‘No.’ He was like, ‘If you’re going to come to Atlanta, sometimes that’s how it is around here, you’re going to have to get used to it.’ I guess he was joking but they just ask most of these questions to see how you’re going to react.”
The Falcons apologized later Friday through a statement from head coach Dan Quinn.
“I am really disappointed in the question that was asked by one of our coaches,” Quinn said. “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.”
Quinn and Manuel both released a statement Monday to further address the incident.
NFL teams are barred from asking questions about sexual orientation during pre-draft interviews, which is both a violation of league policy and employment discrimination laws. The NFL sent teams a memo regarding questions about sexual orientation two years ago.
An NFL spokesman told ProFootballTalk the league will look into the matter.
“This is disappointing and clearly inappropriate as the Falcons acknowledged,” the spokesman said.