Atlanta Falcons assistant coach Marquand Manuel issued a statement of apology on Monday for asking cornerback Eli Apple if he “likes men” during an interview at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine.
Via ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Manuel’s statement reads:
“I take full responsibility for the inappropriate question I asked at the Combine. It was wrong and I apologize to Eli Apple, Mr. Blank, the entire Falcons organization, my family, and our Falcon fans for my insensitivity. I understand it was inappropriate and the offense people have taken to it. I have had an individual counseling session on social responsibility today, and was part of a staff session as well, and found it very valuable in learning from this situation. Moving forward, I will become a better man by going through all of this.”
There have been reports indicating Apple might not have been the only athlete at the combine who was asked a similar question by the Falcons, though none have been confirmed.
The NFL is looking into the interviews, and clearly the line of questioning is unacceptable. It’s illegal for prospective employers to base employment on questions such as the one Manuel asked of Apple, and he should have known better than to go down that road.
It will be interesting to track the fall-out over the entire incident. Given the league’s poor initial responses in the past regarding other sensitive issues, nobody should be surprised if the Falcons end up receiving some discipline from Roger Goodell and the NFL.