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Jonathan Vilma clarifies 'gay players not accepted in NFL' remark

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New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has moved to clarify his comments made on on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" earlier this month about gay players in the NFL.

The issue has been pushed to the top of the agenda following the announcement that University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced the he was homosexual.

Sam will enter the NFL draft in May and will likely be picked up by a franchise - meaning he will become the first gay player in any of America's four main professional sports.

Vilma claimed earlier this month before Sam's announcement that a gay player would have difficulty fitting in at any dressing room in the NFL.

"I think that he would not be accepted as much as we think he would be accepted," Vilma told Kremer.

"I don't want people to just naturally assume, like, 'Oh, we're all homophobic.' That's really not the case. Imagine if he's the guy next to me and, you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me.

"How am I supposed to respond?"

Vilma's remarks have come back to haunt him following Sam's announcement - although he now claims he didn't quite make his point as he would have liked to.

"It was a poor illustration of the example I was trying to give on the context, so I do apologize for that," Vilma told the Times-Picayune.

"I was trying to explain that whenever you have change into something that's been set in stone for so long, something that's been going for so long, that change always comes with a little resistance."

The 31-year-old added that he meant that, because of the varied backgrounds of those in NFL locker rooms, a homosexual player may come across some people who are less accepting of him than others.

"You have people that can be more outgoing, more open-minded. You have people that are a little more closed-minded," he explained.

"Some people grew up with or without the acceptance of gays within their families. You have a lot of different elements within the locker room that you just don't see right now. Me being on the inside for 10 years, inside the locker room, I've been around that.

"And it's not to say that the locker rooms are bad, it's to say that there are going to be people that accept it willingly as soon as he comes in, welcome him with open arms, and then unfortunately, there will be some, I'm about 99 percent sure the minority, will say, well, they're not comfortable with that yet.

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