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Roger Goodell: Gay players in NFL will 'be accepted,' not just tolerated

Roger Goodell said that he believes a gay player would be "accepted" in the NFL. (Mario Tama/Getty Images) Roger Goodell said that he believes a gay player would be "accepted" in the NFL. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A little more than a week after Jason Collins became the first active major-sport professional athlete to reveal he is gay, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that he believes gay players will "be accepted" in the NFL.

"I have such great respect for our players," Goodell said in a wide-ranging interview with NFL.com.

"I don't think it will just be tolerated, I think it will be accepted. These are individuals who play in our league. We're all different in some fashion, and we're accepting of our differences. That's what this is all about. To me, if it happens in the league, that's a personal choice that someone would decide to do. But I know their teammates and teams, and I think the fans, will all respond the right way."

A week and a half ago, Jason Collins' story was published by SI.com. Some NFL players have long been vehement in their advocacy for gay rights, including linebackers Scott Fujita and Brendon Ayanbadejo and punter Chris Kluwe. Earlier this year, CBS Sports' Mike Freeman reported that a gay player currently in the NFL was strongly considering making a public revelation.

In his interview with NFL.com, Goodell also discussed the league's diversity and Tim Tebow, and the new "crown-of-the-helmet" rule set to take effect this season.

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