Former Houston Oilers, Tennessee Titans and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher explained he never drafted a player based on sexual orientation after former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said the NFL encouraged him to do so.
Fisher released a statement and said “the NFL never encouraged or discouraged me regarding the selection of a potential prospect.”
Jeff Fisher @CoachJeffFisher
Jumping on Twitter to clarify the below.
Hope everyone is doing good.😎👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/4bqFDUYSR6
Fisher was the head coach of the Rams when they selected Michael Sam with a seventh-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Sam had publicly come out as gay before the draft.
Part of an extensive report from the New York Times‘ Ken Belson and Katherine Rosman regarding Gruden’s use of racist, anti-gay and misogynistic language in emails from 2011 to 2018 revealed the former coach, who has since resigned, suggested NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pressured Fisher to draft Sam.
Gruden used anti-gay language to describe Sam and Goodell.
The emails also revealed he exchanged emails with pictures of topless women with former Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen, complained about women working as referees and did not like when players protested systemic racism and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem.
Outside of the New York Times report, Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal reported Gruden used a racist trope when discussing NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, who is Black.
As for Sam, he never appeared in a game at the NFL level.
However, he was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American in 2013 with the Missouri Tigers when he tallied 10 sacks.
Fisher was the head coach of the Rams from 2012 to 2016 and finished with a 31-45-1 record.