The Atlanta Falcons began this season as the first stop on the NFL’s new LGBT respect training program. But they couldn’t even make it out of the preseason without a Falcons coach calling a player a “jailhouse bitch” on national TV.
Defensive Line Coach Bryan Cox (photo) spewed the homophobic slur on Episode 4 of “Hard Knocks,” HBO’s behind-the-scenes NFL reality series that follows the Falcons this season. The episode first aired on Tuesday.
As a Rolling Stone recap transcribed it, Cox berated rookie defensive end Ra’Shede Hageman:
“I want you to see how fuckin’ pitiful you look. You just takin’ ass-woopin’s like that? They’re going to make you their jailhouse bitch and you just givin’ into them.”
Rolling Stone treated the vile trash-talk with homophobic glee, headlining its piece “Bad Times For Jailhouse Bitches.”
Mocking gay men and/or rape victims as worthless and inferior may amuse sportswriters afflicted with the bully-worship so common to their trade. But the NFL itself announced a crackdown on homophobic – as well as sexist and racist – language this year. That was in response to the horrendous Miami Dolphins player bullying scandal, as well as the league welcoming its first openly gay player, Michael Sam.
Earlier this year, the NFL took a “Respect in the Workplace” program on tour to every team in the league, starting June 2 at Falcons headquarters in Flowery Branch. Robert Gulliver, the NFL’s chief of human resources, previously told Project Q Atlanta that LBGT respect was a “point of emphasis.”
“We talk about language that is not acceptable in our workplace – the locker room, the playing field, the offices, anywhere,” Gulliver said. That includes words that “are racist, are homophobic, are sexist, and are inconsistent with our values.”
Every Falcons player and coach attended, Gulliver said, adding, “My observation was that the message was accepted. My understanding is, our players get it.”
But he also declined to describe what anyone actually said in that meeting. If anyone really “got it,” the message didn’t last more than three months.
The NFL and the Falcons didn’t respond to Project Q’s questions about Cox’s slur-slinging.
Meanwhile, get ready for more slurs to come. Critical consensus seems to be that the potty-mouthed Cox – in another quotable moment, he complains of players “holding each other’s dicks” – is one of the show’s breakout “stars.” The other one? Wide receiver Roddy White, who thinks being straight is way better than being gay. If you disagree, he has no respect for you and your panties.
UPDATE | In an email response to Project Q, NFL spokesperson Joanna Hunter said, “We will continue to work with our teams to educate everyone in the NFL on standards of appropriate workplace conduct and language.”