ORLANDO, Fla. –With all the meetings and discussions held at the NFL's annual meetings this week in Orlando, it was one that focused on an off-the-field issue that garnered significant attention around the league.
Former NFL defensive back Wade Davis, who announced that he was gay after his career ended, spoke to the group of NFL executives and coaches about the league's locker-room culture.
Davis' message stuck with the group, especially Broncos Head Coach John Fox, who called it "the most incredible presentation" he'd seen at the league meetings.
"It's obviously a thing that's become a bigger part of the NFL," Fox said. "Like everything you've got to learn how to motivate and deal with your locker room. It is a brotherhood and it is a family. You need diversification in everything—even sexual orientation. It has to be in the conversation. I think it was very profound. It was definitely eye-opening for me. Like I said, I enjoyed it as much as anything I've seen since I've been here."
Fox acknowledged that it wasn't a topic he'd spent much time talking about with his teams in the past, but that it would be something he'd cover in the future.
"I've probably not done as good a job of that up until now," Fox said. "But Wade's presentation is high on
my list the next time I talk to my staff when I get back—and my football team."
Davis, who spent time on the Titans' and Seahawks' rosters and in NFL Europe, played for Overland High School in Aurora, Colo. He is now the executive director of You Can Play, an organization that according to its mission statement, "aims to ensure equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation."
With Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam's announcing that he is gay before the NFL Combine, the issue has come to the forefront of the NFL more recently.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that Davis visited the league office to meet with league executives earlier in the offseason.
"I had the privilege of meeting Wade a few weeks ago," Goodell said. "I found his message to be very important for all of us to hear. He's part of the family that we all are in the NFL. He just wants to make sure we provide the kind of workplace where people can be comfortable playing football, and he wants to help us work to do that. He recognizes that everyone is not an advocate or someone who is going to carry the flag. But these are young men who want the opportunity to play in the NFL and they want to do it right. Our job is to make sure we provide that opportunity."