One of my college roommates, in addition to being extremely obnoxious and poorly-hygiened, would spend most NFL Sundays reminding us of the rumors that Steelers QB Kordell Stewart was gay (of course, Yancey Thigpen was his lover, because, hey, why not). According to his Wikipedia page, it was a couple years earlier that speculation began: "A rumor had quickly circulated that Kordell had been arrested in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park, a popular meeting place for gay men, for being observed preforming a sexual act with another man in public" (shockingly, there is no reference provided for that claim).
Well, according to Plaxico Burress, those rumors got to Kordell, and affected his play on the field, the current Giants receiver says in his new book, Giant: The Road To The Super Bowl.
“People were talking about [Kordell] being gay,” Burress writes in Chapter 5. “The players heard that, but we never talked about it. I don’t know if Kordell is gay or not. It was none of our business. If ever we would have talked about it, it would have made everybody uncomfortable. If some player was gay, I don’t think he could come out while he was still playing. It would be real hard. It would mess a team up mentally and it wouldn’t be good for that person.”
Burress also said that the rumors caused Stewart to withdraw from teammates. “He had to watch the people that he hung around with. Just hanging out with your friends, or your boys and your cousins, all those things come to the surface. I think he just insulated himself after a while.”
Last week, Burress appeared on 105.9 The X in Pittsburgh to promote the book, and elaborated, saying, “It had to be tough on him personally. I didn’t call him gay or anything like that. . . . I think that’s one of the reasons why he really couldn’t become the player that he wanted to be. . . . It has to play on you mentally a little bit.”
In a somewhat bothersome bit of news, Stewart apparently called a team meeting during the time of the rumors, solely to dispel the idea of him being gay, in which he went into "graphic descriptions of heterosexual acts he enjoys."
Ah yes, the ol' "yell loudly about heterosexual acts" defense. Works every time.