NFL pro likens gay men to rats, implies Garcia is gay

Wed Aug 11, 9:38 PM ET

Christopher Curtis, PlanetOut Network

SUMMARY: Football player Terrell Owens, the receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, is being quoted as comparing gay men to rats in an excerpt from a Playboy article published Tuesday in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Football player Terrell Owens, the receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, is being quoted as comparing gay men to rats in an excerpt from a Playboy article published Tuesday in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The comparison came up when the interviewer asked Owens if he believed Jeff Garcia, the former San Francisco quarterback, when Garcia denied rumors he's gay.

The article quoted Owens: "Like my boy tells me: 'If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, by golly, it is a rat.'"

When to taken to task by reporters later that morning, Owens seemed more worried about upsetting a former teammate than upsetting the GLBT community.

"Everybody is going to make a big deal out of it, but it wasn't like I came out and said Jeff was gay," Owens said, adding that Garcia dated a woman while the two played for the San Francisco 49ers.

Rita Addessa, executive director of the Pennsylvania Lesbian and Gay Task Force, demanded an apology.

"The equating of gay men to vermin is appalling," Addessa said in a quote published by the New York Times.

"We need to encourage the Eagles and Owens to make a public apology and for the Eagles to publicly discipline Owens. These comments that equate gay men to some inferior life form do real harm, creating a cultural environment that justifies violence against gay and lesbian people," Addessa added.

"The NFL is an organization that needs to be taking a bigger look at homophobia, added Stephen Macias, the entertainment Media Director for Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (news - web sites) (GLAAD).

Macias thought the National Football League should adopt a policy for the GLBT community that is similar to corporate policies on hate speech directed against minorities. "Beyond just each individual thing that pops up, the NFL needs to take some responsibility for this."