Spurred by a case of "Gay" pride, Leigh Clemons tried to order a New England Patriots jersey on her computer last month. Clemons, an assistant professor in Louisiana State University's theater department, watched one of her former pupils, Patriots defensive back Randall Gay, play a key role in New England's 24-21 win against Philadelphia in Super Bowl XXXIX and wanted to show her support for the former LSU standout."A naughty word"? That does not sound like an accident. Furthermore, an almost identical event occurred in Louisiana in December of 2003, when a 7-year-old child was punished for saying a "bad word" in class, the word being "gay" (he was talking about his mother and her partner). You may also remember that story as being the partial inspiration for Atrios' "Preznit Giv Me Turkee" post. (Sadly, the picture link is broken)
But the NFL intercepted her attempts to buy a jersey personalized with Gay's name on the back from NFLshop.com, the league's official online merchandise center.
When Clemons tried to enter the last name of the Patriots cornerback, her request was rejected. The Web site accompanied the rejection with a message that read, "This field should not contain a naughty word."
"I was like, 'You've got to be kidding me,' " Clemons said. "When the message came up, I just sat and stared at it for 30 seconds with my mouth open. I know there are issues with homophobia in the NFL, but it never occurred to me the thing would come to this."
Eventually, Clemons received her jersey. But it took phone conversations with three different NFLshop.com representatives before her request was granted.
So upon discovery of this "error" message, what progress has the NFL made? Well if you go to their store, you'll see they have fixed the problem, and you can now get your Randall Gay jersey. However, as of yesterday,
As of Thursday afternoon, personalized jerseys with the name "Gay" could not be transacted. The wording on the rejection has been changed, however, and said, "The personalization entered cannot be accepted."So that's either 1) a placeholder message until they fix the problem, or 2) a more innocuous message with the intent of ending the issue but keeping the ban on "Gay" jerseys. Given that there's no problem now, hopefully it was the former.
(And by the way, it's not just football. Cough cough Orel Hershiser at Until There's A Cure Day cough cough...)