Kerry Rhodes and his relationship with his former personal assistant, Hollywood Simpson, was one of this summer’s juiciest topics. Simpson, an openly gay man, released personal pictures of the two hugged up on vacation amd talking in bed, and the gay rumors swirled. Rhodes has denied that allegations, but for many questions about his sexual preference still remain.
Now, with Rhodes still unemployed, Deadspin has asked the question…Has Kerry Rhodes been blacklisted because of this summer’s gay rumor?
Look at his career stats and you will see that there was no obvious drop-off in the quality of Rhodes’s play in 2012 compared to the seven previous seasons. He’s been serviceable at worst and Pro Bowl-caliber at best. Nothing about him has changed except for the fact that someone put up a picture of him with his arm around a dude. Rhodes has vehemently denied the gay rumors, and yet the mere suspicion of his gayness seems to have been enough to make him unemployable.
If you watched any of the games from Week 1, you know that there are roughly 50 teams that could use improved safety play. According to Mike Florio, four teams tried out defensive backs this week: the Bucs, Colts, Dolphins and Seahawks. None of them brought in Rhodes. The second David Wilson put two balls on the ground against the Cowboys, Tom Coughlin was sprinting to the waiver wire to find any running back with 10 fingers and a working spinal cord (he grabbed Brandon Jacobs, which indicates that he failed in that task). Why a team like the Ravens—who were DESTROYED by Julius Thomas and the rest of the Denver passing offense—wouldn’t do the same thing and at least kick the tires on Rhodes is baffling. Florio told me this in an email:
From league source who requested anonymity: “There’s no buzz about Kerry Rhodes.” Also, from what I am hearing, I can’t disagree with the possibility Rhodes is being blackballed. You can quote me on all of this.
I called 5 Star Athlete Management, which represents Rhodes, to ask if the safety had fielded any calls this week. Jennifer Thatcher, a VP at the agency, confirmed that Rhodes got no tryouts after Week 1, but she declined to comment any further.
NFL front offices and even some players say they would embrace an openly gay player in the locker room, but behind closed doors say they don’t want to be associated with it. Some of the reluctance may be due to ignorant discomfort, but others might not want to have to deal with the added attention having a gay player on the team will bring.
Although the league may like us to think that NFL is one of the few employment systems where you’re judged solely on your performance without having your race, religion, or sexual preference held against you, a jobless Kerry Rhodes may paint another picture.