“There’s definitely going to be some changes made. I don’t know if they’ll all be for the good, but they’re coming. Once you have one of these situations come out and the media is pumping the story, now you hear about it every single day, all day long. People start to think it’s some huge issue in the entire NFL. And I just don’t think that’s right.”
Greenway said he isn’t sure what to expect when it comes to possible locker room regulations.
“I think you have to put in place a process where people can report it, where it can become easier and more out in the open to where guys can say, ‘Hey, this is going on and it’s not OK,’ ” Greenway said. “But other than that, I don’t know what you can do. You can’t have a locker room police officer in there sort of watching what goes on. That would seem a little preposterous.”
Racial slur debate
The eight-member NFL Competition Committee also is considering proposing a new rule to the owners that would punish players who use the N-word during games with a 15-yard penalty. Anyone who has spent time around NFL players knows it’s a popular word, most often used in a friendly manner between black players.
“Again, I don’t think the N-word is as big of an issue as I’ve been hearing about,” said Felton, who is black. “It’s definitely said and it’s definitely out there. But it’s just part of the locker room culture. I’ve never been in a situation where I was uncomfortable with how it was said.”
Greenway, who is white, said it’s yet another new rule possibility to which players must be willing to adjust.
“Obviously I know it’s not OK to be used,” he said. “But within that culture, it’s widely accepted. So who am I to say they aren’t allowed to use it? I’m not sure if there’s a mandate that can come down on that either on the field or in the locker room.”
An openly gay player
Greenway said he thinks Sam, the openly gay player from Missouri, will be accepted in an NFL locker room.
“Without a doubt,” he said. “There are so many differences between all of us. It seems to me like an openly gay player would be a nonissue.”
Felton said there will be an adjustment period because of the media’s initial reaction and the fact that some players will shy away from Sam out of fear of accidentally saying the wrong thing and creating a story.
“He won’t have an overly difficult time,” Felton said. “But there will be an adjustment period. When he was at Missouri, he told everybody his senior year. They had already grown to become good friends with him and love him and consider him a teammate and a brother. In the NFL, people won’t know who he is. But, honestly, the toughest thing for him is going to be dealing with the media. He’ll have to answer those stupid questions over and over.”
The NFL also could be dealing with more problems depending on what happens with the independent investigation of Priefer, who was accused by former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe of bigotry in the form of homophobic slurs directed toward Kluwe’s outspoken support of gay rights. Kluwe also accused the Vikings of releasing him in part because of that public support.
Priefer has denied the charges and the Vikings have stood behind him, allowing him to be retained by new coach Mike Zimmer. Results of the investigation are expected by the end of March.
“When I heard Kluwe’s [charges], it shocked me,” Felton said. “I’m in most of the special teams meetings and Priefer has never been anything but respectful when I’ve been around him. … He’s a good person. … If you were to ask me, I would be shocked and surprised if he said those things to Kluwe in a hateful way.
“And the part about Kluwe saying he got released because of his views, that was ridiculous. … If he was a top-five punter and got released for a guy with a lot of upside, that’s one thing. But that wasn’t the case.”