In dealing with players who say potentially disrespectful things about gays and lesbians, activists say it is important to be both reactionary—like fining or suspending players for offensive comments—and proactive. Teammates of gay players may just be nervous about talking to the press as the athlete himself, afraid of "saying the wrong thing."
"Most athletes aren't studying this book about what it means to be LGBT. They're studying playbooks," says Davis and thus he says it's important not to vilify comments like those made by Clemons. "We have to have compassionate. A lot of these players may be for it, they may be against it, but they deserve to have a voice."
GLAAD, Athlete Ally and other LGBTQ groups have had a long-standing relationship with the NFL and other pro leagues, working to make them hospitable places for gay players, but also for league employees. Many will be meeting with the NFL again this week. "We're hoping what will come out of it is a plan to speak to players," says McQuade.
But just as important is the work being done within the athletic community at large, as most athletes will never make it to the pros, says Davis. "What are we doing in colleges? What are we doing in high school sports?"
"Wherever it happens [that a professional male athlete comes out], the team, the league, the players, the teammates, his coaches, the fans, everyone involved is going to be providing an example to the world," says McQuade. " And we want to work with whoever is involved to make sure it is a good one."