Dabo Swinney: I played with gay players at Alabama

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer

Dabo Swinney said he played with gay players at Alabama.  (USATSI)
Dabo Swinney said he played with gay players at Alabama. (USATSI)

Michael Sam's announcement that he is gay has led to further discussion regarding gay players in college football. The Missouri football program has been praised for being supportive and respectful of Sam when he told the team -- prior to the Tigers' SEC division title-winning season in 2013 -- but they were not the first locker room to do so in college football.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney gave his take on the topic in an interview on The Morning Show with Jason Bailey and Randy Cross on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta. In the interview, Swinney says that he did play with gay players at Alabama , where he was a wide receiver from 1990-92, including theTide's National Championship team in 1992.

"When I was at Alabama there were a couple of guys, as a player, that we felt like that was their sexual orientation," Swinney said when asked if he had been in the same position as Missouri with Sam. "But it was never an issue, never a problem. It's not something that you run out to tell people."

Swinney explained that at Alabama, "it wasn't as talked about amongst the team" and no players had any open meeting announcements. He compared playing with players of different sexual orientation to playing with players from different religious backgrounds.

"Again, you have respect for each individual and their personal beliefs. It's just like they're different religions. I'm a Christian, but I've coached and played with Muslims and all kind of different religions. It's not about any of that. Those are personal decisions that people have to make. I mean everyone will be judged one day, but it's not up to me to judge somebody."

Additionally, Swinney said that he would not be surprised if he has coached some gay players at Clemson.

"It's the same thing since I've been here at Clemson. I've been here 11 seasons now and I'd be foolish to think there hasn't been a few guys that have come through here. A football team is really just a reflection of society. You've got 118, 120 guys on the team, you got a little bit of everything."

According to former Nebraska kicker Erick Lueshen, then-coach Bill Callahan and the Cornhuskers knew he was gay while playing from 2004-05. He said this week that he felt like "a very welcomed and loved teammate of many" after coming out.

 
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