LOS ANGELES: The National Football League launched an investigation Thursday after a top draft prospect revealed he had been quizzed about his sexuality by team representatives during last week’s scouting combine.
Former Louisiana State University running back Derrius Guice told Sirius XM radio he had been subjected to questions about his private life and baited with lurid allegations about his mother.
The 20-year-old said he believed the questions were a test intended to see how he would respond under pressure.
“It was pretty crazy,” Guice said. “Some people are really trying to get in your head and test your reaction.
“I go in one room, and a team will ask me ‘do I like men,’ just to see my reaction. I go in another room, they’ll try to bring up one of my family members or something and tell me, ‘Hey, I heard your mom sells herself. How do you feel about that?’”
The revelations drew a stern response from the NFL on Thursday, which said it had opened an investigation into the issue.
“A question such as that is completely inappropriate and wholly contrary to league workplace policies,” the league said.
“The NFL and its clubs are committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all employees in a manner that is consistent with our commitment to diversity and inclusion, state and federal laws and the CBA. We are looking into the matter.”
The NFL’s scouting combine brings together the top prospects in the draft, offering them a platform to showcase their athletic skills before team scouts.
Teams also get the opportunity to speak to players to evaluate their character — and intrusive questioning is sometimes used to see how players respond.
The NFL Players Association meanwhile said the team representatives who spoke to Guice should be barred from future scouting combines as a penalty.
“Find out what team did it and ban them from the Combine,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said.
“The question is inappropriate. Questions along these lines are always inappropriate.”
Controversy over inappropriate questions put to draft prospects has flared before.
In 2016, now New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple said he was asked if he was gay during a pre-draft interview with Atlanta Falcons assistant coach Marquand Manuel.
Manuel later issued an apology after the NFL deemed the question “disappointing and clearly inappropriate.”
In 2010, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant was asked by then-Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland whether his mother was a prostitute.