Most NFL players would accept gay teammate: poll

The Sports Xchange/Reuters

Posted at Feb 18 2014 11:19 AM | Updated as of Feb 18 2014 07:19 PM

Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Michael Sam (52) is congratulated by defensive lineman Lucas Vincent (96) after sacking Florida Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy (not pictured) during the second half at Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri in this file photo from October 19, 2013. Photo by Denny Medley, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.

An ESPN poll indicated that 86 percent of NFL players surveyed would accept having an openly gay teammate.

The poll was taken in light of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam coming out as gay. Sam was expected to be taken in the May draft but it is not certain how the revelation will affect his draft status.

ESPN surveyed 51 players (nearly the equivalent of an NFL roster) and asked four true-false questions.

Forty-four players (86 percent) indicated that a teammate's sexual orientation did not matter to them, and 39 (76 percent) indicated they would be comfortable showering around a gay teammate.

However, 32 players (less than 63 percent) responded that they had teammates or coaches who used homophobic slurs last season. Also, only 25 of the 51 players (49 percent) indicated that an openly gay player would be comfortable in an NFL locker room.

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Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs signed a multiyear contract extension. The new deal is a four-year extension that will free up $4 million in salary-cap space for the Ravens, according to NFL Media.

Suggs will reportedly receive more than $20 million in the first three years, with $16 million guaranteed in the first two seasons.

The Ravens have limited cap space and several free agents they want to re-sign. Suggs' deal accommodates the Ravens by significantly reducing his $12.4 million salary. The new deal adds three years to the one year remaining.

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Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said that running back Ray Rice is still in the team's plans, despite his arrest.

Newsome met with coach John Harbaugh and other team officials after they learned Rice and his fiancee were arrested early Saturday morning following an altercation at a casino, according to Atlantic City, N.J., police.

"When I left my office 20 minutes ago, and John had probably been there 15 minutes before then, Ray Rice was still a big part of what we plan to do in 2014," Newsome said, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Newsome said he has not spoken to Rice since the arrest but that he planned to soon.

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Carolina Panthers Cam Newton said during a radio interview that he does not plan to hold out to pressure the team into giving him a long-term contract extension, reported.

Newton recently completed his third season in the NFL. Under the collective bargaining agreement, Newton is eligible for an extension of his original four-year contract. The Panthers also have the option of picking up a fifth-year option on the quarterback's current contract.

There have been no signs that negotiations are underway on an extension or that the Panthers plan to pick up the option.

In any case, Newton said on the "Dan Patrick Show" on Monday that he does not plan to hold out to try to get a new contract.

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Former Atlanta Falcons running back Jim "Cannonball" Butler, one of the first Pro Bowlers in the franchise's history, died. He was 70.

Butler died on Feb. 10, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Butler played in the NFL for eight seasons and rushed for 2,768 yards.

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The Chicago Bears signed defensive end Austen Lane to a one-year contract.

Lane has 64 tackles, three sacks, four tackles for losses and one forced fumble in four NFL seasons.

Lane has started 17 of 30 games he has played with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2010-12) and Detroit Lions (2013) after he was selected by the Jaguars in the fifth round of the 2010 draft.

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The Atlanta Falcons signed free-agent offensive lineman Gabe Carimi, the team announced Monday.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Carimi played in 14 games, including three starts, for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past season.