Dec. 16, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: Arizona Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes (25) celebrates a play against the Detroit Lions at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Lions 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Has Former Jet Kerry Rhodes Been Blackballed?

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. He mentioned that he would not watch the show “How I Met Your Mother” because of the fact that Neil Patrick Harris is gay. He just doesn’t support gay entertainers or watch their shows or movies. To this I say to each his own. There are a lot of conservative folks that in this day and age steer clear of anything non heterosexual. That is their prerogative. It seems like the age of vilifying persons for their sexual orientation has subsided, but now we are a group that quietly protests, silently disagrees, and refuse to acknowledge personal accomplishments, or talents, based solely on an individuals personal sexual, religious, or even political affiliation.

This got me thinking about Kerry Rhodes. If there are two Jets that I will always root for it is Braylon Edwards and Kerry Rhodes. For those of you that don’t remember Kerry Rhodes, he was drafted in the 4th round of the 2005 draft, and played a solid five seasons for the Jets. He had started the past three seasons for the Arizona Cardinals at free safety, when pictures of him surfaced last year with a man on his side. The pictures showed them clearly being affectionate with one another, and before we knew it, Kerry Rhodes was “outed” as being a gay professional football player. Here’s the rub. Since those pictures came out, Rhodes has denied, denied, and denied being gay. Even so here is the outcome.

Despite a 2012 season in which a pro bowl talent free safety recorded 67 tackles, one sack, 11 pass breakups, four interceptions, and two forced fumbles he has found literally no work in the NFL. NFL sources claimed that Rhodes didn’t even get a tryout early on this season. Are the numbers a lie, or are they the facts? Is Rhodes who is 31 suddenly past his prime? Is he declining in skill? Is he a liability in coverage, or run defense? Is he a bad locker room presence? What exactly made Kerry Rhodes so bad between last season and this season that literally no NFL team has taken a shot at employing him?

I’m going to put this into a context for you. Michael Vick bought pit-bulls, bred them, and then fought them to the death. He then lied about it repeatedly, and eventually was convicted when his co-conspirators flipped on him. He received prison time, two years out of the NFL. He had a heart to heart with Tony Dungy, found a spot on the Eagles, a new starting job, and even a brand new 100 million dollar contract. Plaxico Burress carried a loaded weapon into a night club in a state that does not allow loaded unlicensed weapons, discharged it into his pants while shooting himself. He received prison time, some time away from the NFL, and found a home with New York and again with Pittsburgh. Where exactly does this context fit with Kerry Rhodes. He had pictures surface, yet he is less employable than the aforementioned players.

I don’t blame Kerry Rhodes, as you can look at his numbers and see that he should probably be starting for about 2/3 of the league right now. I blame owners, head coaches, and general managers. I blame them for making a stance by doing nothing. By doing nothing the NFL owners, and everyone in the decision-making process that says “I don’t want this player, because I believe he is gay”. Let’s face it. That’s what it is, because it’s not his level of play which clearly hasn’t fallen off. By doing nothing, and refusing to sign, or EVEN GIVE THE GUY A WORKOUT, they have said without saying that it is better to be a criminal, or incarcerated, than to be gay in the NFL. I write this not because I believe in gay rights, or I’m an advocate, but because I believe it is the right thing to do. That seems like a thing that no one really cares about anymore in the NFL.

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  • John

    It’s an awkward situation to be aware of as an avid football fan and gay rights supporter. Is the morally correct stand to refrain from watching the sport I love because of a handful of narrow-minded old men? It probably is, but I’m not a righteous enough person to do it.

    I wish Rhodes would come out and take this to suit against the NFL. He has the opportunity to set a major legal precedent against discrimination in not just football but pro sports as a whole. That to me, would be a legacy far greater than any first-ballot Hall-Of-Famer can boast.

    • Vincent Hall

      John, I agree with you. What’s worse is the fact that this is a generally acknowledged ignominious situation for the NFL in general, but no one will even mention it.

  • Doug VB

    To be honest I could not care less what Kerry Rhodes does in his private life so long as he does not engage in any illegal activity. If he’s gay so be it, if he’s not and someone has painted him as such then he should take legal action against them.
    Unfortunately this might be the reason why Rex Ryan shipped Rhodes out of town so quickly and so cheaply after just one season with the Jets. Ryan went from touting Rhodes as the next Ed Reed to saying he was done and happily taking a late round draft pick from the Cardinals for him.
    If Rhodes is gay he should sue the league for hostile work place and collusion and again if he’s not then he should sue whom ever started the rummer for defamation and lost wages.

    As for a football team who should be begging him to sign a contract, Rex Ryan should get on bended knee and beg Rhodes to come back to the Jets, we have not had a FS of his caliber since he was shipped out of town & with the secondary being the Achilles heel of the NYJ defense it would be smart to bring in a pro-bowl type DB to help.

    • Vincent Hall

      Doug VB, I agree. I don’t believe in suing just to sue, but I do believe in it as a legal precedent for something that everyone knows is unfair or unjust. Someone has to pave the way, and if it is Kerry Rhodes then so be it. I can say fairly certainly that Kerry Rhodes is equal to or better than either Dawan Landry or Antonio Allen.

  • Frank Antonelli

    This is a very typical left wing liberal media type report. Let’s make everything about racism. How about the fact that he stinks. If you can’t play on Rex’s defense there is a problem. He’s a me first type player who doesn’t deserve to be in the NFL.

    • Vincent Hall

      Frank, I am very confused as to your comment. This is a bigotry related topic, but not about racism. Can you honestly say a player stinks when he has put up the type of numbers that Rhodes has? Also, it’s not about the Jets or Rex Ryan, it’s about the 32 NFL teams that have refused to employ him based on a sexual bias. Can you really tell me that Kerry Rhodes stinks, and he is worse than 64 starting safties in the NFL, after the season he just had? Also, if your employer refuses to employ you for being a conservative, and then the rest of the companies in your chosen profession do not employ you for being a conservative, do you take offense to this? That is what this is about. NFL players are employees in a business. The business has clearly chosen to not employ a specific employee, not based on his skill, or ability to do his job, but on a societal bias. How would that sit with you Frank, if this were you in your career?

      • Frank Antonelli

        I obviously meant bigotry, but I’m sure someone else will bring up the racism card as well. You are assuming that he is being blackballed because of a sexual bias. The fact of the matter is that all teams place winning over sexual bias, racism or any other ism. That is an undeniable fact of life in pro sports today. Your assumption is 100% WRONG.

  • Cigar Surgeon

    Kerry was not picked up because he has an attitude problem. He also has a terrible work ethic, and arguably isn’t that talented of a player.

    None of that has anything to do with how he spends his after hours time.

    • Vincent Hall

      Cigar, I’m not exactly sure that the guy has an attitude problem, or where you base your conclusion from. His work ethic, and talent have never been questioned to my knowledge. The only thing that I know he did was pursue some acting in the off season over going to a voluntary minicamp one year. I think that is better than players that routinely get DUI’s, or domestic violence arrests, which occur all the time. I’m not sure how you can say he is not talented, especially when put up against all the safeties with jobs in the NFL. That is the real point.

  • Yo

    Wasn’t he paid a lot if he stayed this season in Arizona? Old players start getting expensive…