Falcons Assistant Coach Apologizes After Asking NFL Prospect If He's Gay

Falcons Assistant Coach Apologizes After Asking NFL Prospect If He's Gay

Why was Eli Apple's sexuality brought up in the first place?

Published March 7th

Asking a prospect about his strengths, weaknesses and what he thinks he'll be able to add to the team might be routine questions that coaches hit players with at the NFL Combine.

But that's nowhere near what Atlanta Falcons assistant coach Marquand Manuel asked former Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple last week. That's because Manuel flat-out asked Apple if he likes men during the Combine.

Wait...what? 

Apple, shocked, told Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia on Friday about a Falcons' assistant's strange question without identifying Manuel.

"The Falcons coach, one of the coaches, was like, 'So do you like men?'" Apple told Comcast SportsNet, as reported by ESPN. "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.' I guess he was joking, but they just ask most of these questions to see how you're going to react."

If that was Manuel's way of joking, it's pretty ridiculous, and the coach must have realized that himself, issuing an apology Monday.

"I take full responsibility for the inappropriate question I asked at the combine," Manuel said in a statement, as reported by ESPN. "It was wrong and I apologize to Eli Apple, [Falcons owner] Mr. [Arthur] Blank, the entire Falcons organization, my family and our Falcon fans for my insensitivity. I understand it was inappropriate and the offense people have taken to it. I have had an individual counseling session on social responsibility today, and was part of a staff session as well, and found it very valuable in learning from this situation. Moving forward, I will become a better man by going through all of this."

Falcons coach Dan Quinn also expressed his disappointment in his staff.

"I have spoken to every coach on our staff individually and collectively today in regards to what happened at the combine," Quinn said in a statement, as reported by ESPN as well. "The inappropriate conversation occurred between one of our position coaches and the player. It was not during one of our formal 15-minute interviews. 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 had a training seminar with a league-approved counselor here at our facility today with our entire coaching staff regarding social responsibility. Our organization holds itself to a very high standard and we will learn from this."

According to ESPN, the NFL is even investigating the matter.

Why in the world would Manuel question a player's sexuality at the NFL Combine? What would a player's sexuality have to do with how he plays the game?

We hear Manuel's apology, but we'll see if it's too late.

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(Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images) 

Written by Mark Lelinwalla

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