The New York Giants have come under fire with the hiring of former wide receiver David Tyree as the organization’s new director of player development. The hiring has drawn skepticism, criticism and concern from gay rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign. The concerns raised by HRC stem from Tyree’s previous stance against marriage equality as well as his advocacy for gay conversion therapy. The hiring was seen as a step back for the NFL and its progress towards inclusion and acceptance for LGBT athletes.
The heat fired at the New York Giants organization and Tyree has triggered a change of heart from the Super Bowl XLII hero. On Thursday, You Can Play executive director Wade Davis said that Tyree told him that he was no longer an advocate of gay conversion therapy and more importantly, he is open to meeting and befriending gay players. Tyree has seemingly distanced himself and evolved from previous anti-gay comments according to Davis, a former NFL player who has come out as openly gay after leaving the game. Although he hasn’t done it publicly, his willingness to meet with Davis could be seen as positive step.
In a column written by Davis for Sports Illustrated Monday Morning Quarterback blog on Thursday, Davis quotes Tyree as saying, “Christianity teaches us love, compassion and respect for our fellow man, and it is in that light that I will continue to work with Wade and others to better serve the gay community. I would absolutely support any player on the Giants who identified as gay, in any way I could. And I will continue to stay in touch with Wade to ensure I am aware of the right ways to do that.”
Tyree campaigned against the New York State marriage equality bill before it became law in 2011 and he also has claimed to have met people “who told him they were ex-gays.” The HRC shot down his views of homosexuality being curable with evidence supported by the American Medical Association and other public health groups and also labeled his hiring as a risk by the Giants, stating that overall it “goes against the positive work the Giants organization has done in recent years.” According to Davis, Tyree no longer thinks that “anyone needs that kind of therapy.”
Despite having knowledge of Tyree’s anti-gay comments, Giants General Manager Jerry Reese defended the hiring. He said the organization still believes he’s the right man for the job and stated, “We do our diligence on everyone we try and hire around here. David was, No. 1he was qualified, and we think he’s a terrific fit for us. We’re happy to have him on board.”
The hiring coincided with backlash aimed towards former NFL coach Tony Dungy, who said he would not have drafted openly gay player Michael Sam in an interview with the Tampa Tribune. Dungy claimed his reasoning was because of the distractions Sam would bring, particularly from the media. Dungy later said he didn’t believe Sam would be a distraction to teammates or the St. Louis Rams organization and wished him the best in his NFL career. Both situations demonstrate the NFL’s readiness for openly gay players as well as an openness towards change.