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Phil Coke On Jason Collins "You Have To Have Respect For That"

By: Jeff Riger

You knew it would only be a matter of time before an openly gay athlete came out while being an active player. By now you know that player is NBA free agent Jason Collins who came out to the world on Monday morning. Collins was the first but hopefully will not be the last. Of course with the news of Collins coming out, reporters and media types everywhere have been going around and getting other athletes reactions while asking the question how they think a gay player would be received in their clubhouse, dressing room or locker room?

Detroit Tigers pitcher Phil Coke, who is never at a loss for words talked about Collins for a solid 3 minutes and by his words and tone, truly accepts and respects what the NBA'er is doing. Below are some of the more interesting quotes from Coke.

What was Coke's initial reaction to Collins coming out?

"Well for starters hats off to him to be on the stage that he is on, basically representing all the major league sports in being the first guy to be like hey, I'm still in the game and yes my preference is, to ah, I don't know how to word that, I don't want to be offensive at all."

Coke was impressed by the courage of Collins to come out.

"You got to have some serious intestinal fortitude to be able to do that and under the possibility of mass scrutiny. He's standing up for himself as well as the community. You have to have respect for that, you have to."

Does Coke believe MLB and the Tigers are ready for a gay player?

"I don't know, I don't have any idea, each clubhouse is different, and each sports atmosphere is different. (Justin) Verlander said it in spring that he feels as though our clubhouse is very open and we'd be open armed and I second that."

Is it sad that this is even a story?

"I know, I was thinking the same thing! I don't know why I have to be answering questions about another man that I have never met in my life." A reporter then answered saying "because it is the first" where Coke then continued saying "well of course it's the first and I know that we are in a totally different atmosphere but I don't feel like there should be a need for this. We're supposedly so much advanced then we once were why is it even an issue?"

Make sure to listen to the entire Coke interview below as the relief pitcher was one of the few Tigers that felt comfortable enough to approach the topic...

Phil Coke

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