OK, technically the ESPY’s Red Carpet. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (above, left) has already run afoul of media and management for past transgressions including hanging out with a porn star and making a fool of himself shortly after New England’s Super Bowl loss to the Giants. So when Gronk was confronted by Outsports’ Cyd Ziegler Jr., who identified his website as being akin to “ESPN for homos”, the former allegedly claimed he was “afraid of saying something wrong”. Full points then, for giving the right answer without consulting the team’s P.R. dept.

“Have you ever played with a gay teammate?” I asked.

He thought for a moment and said he didn’t know of any.

“How would you feel if one of your teammates on the Patriots came out of the closet this season?”

This time he didn’t pause.

“If that’s how they are, that’s how they are,” Gronkowski said. “I mean, we’re teammates so, as long as he’s being a good teammate and being respectful and everything, that’s cool.”

And with that, Gronkowski added his name to the growing list of professional athletes who would welcome a gay teammate. Because of the way we treat celebrities in our culture, it nearly didn’t happen. As a fan of the player and his team, I was proud he got past his fears of the potential backlash and gave me a minute of his time.

Unrelated to the Outsports item, Gronkowski has reportedly been asked by the Patriots to keep a lower profile, which is a bit comical given the classy, dignified acts of the club’s 71-year-old owner.