Collins gets plenty of support after coming out

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“No, I didn’t know about it! I don’t think anyone did!” Wizards guard Bradley Beal wrote in a text message. “I am proud of his decision to come out and express the way he feels and I’m supportive of that!! I never judge anyone, that’s his decision and his life to live! I always saw him as a great teammate, mentor, leader, huge asset to our team and just a vet to me! So all in all I respect what he has done.”

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis talked with Collins on Monday, saying that he told him, “we are proud of you and I support you in every way possible.”

Predictably, Collins‘ message was not unanimously well received. Thousands of tweets about Collins included a gay slur. In New York, well-known sports radio host Mike Francesa called the story “a dramatic attempt to sell a magazine.”

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace had to backtrack from, delete and eventually apologize for two tweets he posted about the Collins story, in which he said he did not understand homosexuality. And on his radio show on WQAM in Miami, former Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder _ who said Collins was strong for coming out _ questioned what effect it would have coming from a journeyman who’s likely nearing the end of his career.

“Him being the low-end player he is, it’s not going to open enough minds,” Crowder said.

No one knows how many minds Collins‘ story may have opened Monday, though it did elicit plenty of responses.

“I think it is a monumental day,” said San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels, who is active in the `You Can Play’ movement that is dedicated to fighting homophobia in sports. “It’s very encouraging for the LGBT community and more importantly sports in general. This is a day that’s been coming for a while.”

Many other athletes agreed.

“Gay people are part of our society,” Milwaukee Bucks forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute said. “We live with them, they’re our friends, they’re our co-workers and now they’re our teammates. It was going to happen some day or another, it just happened to be today.”

Added U.S. women’s soccer star Abby Wambach: “I think there is nothing more inspiring than to see somebody stand up, regardless of their environment, and be who they are.”

Said Detroit Tigers reliever Phil Coke: “He’s going onto that stage alone, and he’s taking on representing himself and his entire community. Not only that, but at this point, he’s representing every major sport in America. That takes a great deal of intestinal fortitude. I have the utmost respect for him.”

And this came from Toronto Raptors forward Rudy Gay: “Happy for my former teammate Jason Colllins. A true American. `home of the free because of the brave.’”

Welts came out in 2011, becoming the first senior sports executive to acknowledge he was gay. So clearly, he had some sort of sense about what Collins was feeling on Monday.

“He’s somebody who didn’t have the benefit of somebody going before him to sit and watch how people would react,” Welts said. “It takes a man of great courage to do what he did today. I’m happy for him. He can be the complete Jason Collins every day for the rest of his life.”

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