NFL Combine Football

LSU running back Derrius Guice speaks during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine, Thursday, March 1, 2018, in Indianapolis.

“Do you like men?”

That was the question someone from an NFL team had the nerve to ask former LSU running back Derrius Guice during the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Were that the worst of it.

Guice, during an interview Wednesday on the SiriusXM radio show “Late Hits,” said someone from another team told him, “Hey, I heard your mom sells herself. How do you feel about that?”

Guice tried to make light of the whole experience. He said he was told “to come in prepared,” and said he left Indianapolis feeling exhausted but that it was a great experience overall. “It went exactly how everyone told me it would be,” he said.

Unfortunately, that’s true.

Guice is a young man trying fulfill his dream of playing in the NFL and mining his football talent for millions. As a result, he apparently was not overly eager to rock the S.S. Neanderthal.

As prepared as Guice was, he was probably still shocked at the questions, though he might have made a quick check to see whether this is indeed 2018.

It would have been nice if Guice told Coach Creep who asked him about his sexual preference, “Do your knuckles drag the ground?” It would have been fitting if he replied to the thoughtless jerk who basically asked Guice if his mother was a prostitute and how he felt about that thusly: “I know how I feel about one thing: I don’t want to play for your team.”

But like most of us confronted with a highly awkward social situation, Guice probably tried to make the best of it and move on. Days later in the SiriusXM interview, he was apparently still trying to do the same thing.

Maybe he took the questions for what it has been suggested on social media that they were: tests intended to provoke him, to see how he would react. Not serious questions at all.

Even if so, that hardly makes it right. A person’s sexual orientation is not fair game for an employer’s questions, whether that person is a interviewing to be a bartender or a plant worker or an NFL player. And dragging said player’s family into it with nasty insinuations/questions is a low blow struck far out of bounds.

Naturally, though, this isn’t the first time this has happened.

In 2013, former Colorado tight end Nick Kasa was asked at the combine if he “likes girls.” At the 2016 scouting combine, Atlanta Falcons assistant Marquand Manuel asked cornerback Eli Apple, now with the New York Giants, if he was gay. According to Apple, it was the first question out of Manuel’s mouth. When the story came to light, Falcons coach Dan Quinn reprimanded Manuel, who apologized to Apple.

Manuel is now the Falcons’ defensive coordinator. He sure served a heavy price for his boorishness, didn’t he?

What Guice went through is something that isn’t supposed to happen during these combine interviews at all. The league has a policy against hurling such verbal garbage.

Of course, that policy was set down at least as far back as the rotten Apple incident. You see how much things have not changed.

It is truly remarkable how tone deaf the NFL and its inner practitioners can continue to be. After so much information on concussions has come to light. After the #metoo and #timesup and “March for our lives” movements have pushed new boundaries of social activism and enlightenment. After all that, a man can still sit in an interview room and expect he can ask another man about his sexual orientation, or whether his mother is a prostitute, with impunity.

Expecting the NFL to discipline the people involved in this situation is probably about as realistic as expecting our state legislators to come up with a compromise budget during the just-abandoned special session instead of wasting the taxpayers’ $1 million.

But the NFL had better improve. If it doesn’t, the league is even more likely to one day find itself obsolete and ostracized, asking people not whether they’re gay or straight, but “Don’t you still like pro football?”