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ESPN survey: Eighty-six percent of NFL players OK with gay teammate

Michael Sam (Rich Sugg/Getty Images) Michael Sam led the SEC with 11.5 sacks last season. (Rich Sugg/Getty Images)

In light of Michael Sam coming out as gay, ESPN conducted an anonymous survey of 51 NFL players, asking them four true-false questions regarding a potential teammate's sexual orientation.

Forty-four of the 51 polled (86.3 percent) responded false when asked if a teammate's sexual orientation mattered to them.

Trying to determine how Sam will be received by the NFL has been a focus since his announcement. SI.com's Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans spoke with eight NFL coaches and executives about how welcome an openly gay player would be in the league and received sobering answers. "I don't think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet," one told them.

BEDARD: Michael Sam: Studying the Game Tape

The players surveyed by ESPN were also asked about showering with a gay teammate, the use of slurs in the locker room and how comfortable a gay player will feel.

The results:

A player's sexual orientation matters to you.

True: 7

False: 44

• I had teammates and coaches who used homophobic slurs this past season.

True: 32

False: 19

• I would shower around a gay teammate.

True: 39

False: 12

• An openly gay player would be comfortable in an NFL locker room.

True: 25

False: 21

No answer: 5

SI WIRE: Michael Sam Sr. says he was 'terribly misquoted' regarding homophobic comments

Some players also offered suggestions for the team that selects Sam.

According to one starting wide receiver, "Whoever takes [Sam in the draft] should have an open talk at the beginning of camp, where everybody can ask what he's comfortable with, what offends him, what boundaries there should be. When it comes to race, people already know the boundaries, to a certain extent. But I don't think football players are overly familiar with what can and can't be said around a gay person."

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