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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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