WASHINGTON: Atlanta Falcons assistant coach Marquand Manuel apologized and accepted full responsibility on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) for asking former Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple if he was gay at the NFL Combine.
“I take full responsibility for the inappropriate question I asked at the combine,” Manuel said. “It was wrong and I apologize to Eli Apple, (team owner Arthur) Blank, the entire Falcons organization, my family, and our Falcon fans for my insensitivity.”
Manuel, a 36-year-old defensive backs coach whose eight-year NFL career ended in 2009, spent three seasons as an assistant with the Seattle Seahawks before joining the Atlanta staff last year.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn had acknowledged last week that an assistant coach had asked Apple an insensitive question.
“The inappropriate conversation occurred between one of our position coaches and the player — it was not during one of our formal 15-minute interviews,” Quinn said Monday.
“Following my discussions with the coaches, we have taken additional steps to ensure our entire staff is well educated on the appropriate questions and comments that should be made during these processes.
“We will learn from this.”
The NFL is still looking into the incident and could impose disciplinary action for the violation of league rules.
Last week, Apple told Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia that, “The Falcons coach, one of the coaches, was like, ‘So do you like men?’ It was like the first thing he asked me. 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.’”
Apple later said he thought Manuel might have been joking and said, “they just ask most of these questions to see how you’re going to react.”