Coach’s Anti-Gay Slur Prompts Minn. College Football Player to Quit

A.J. Barker

A football player for the University of Minnesota’s football team announced he quit this week after the coach allegedly subjected him to years of mental abuse and an assistant coach even hurled a homophobic slur at him, Out Sports reports.

According to a letter that was posted on the social media website Tumblr, Minnesota Golden Gophers A.J. Barker says he quit the team after his lead coach Jerry Kill subjected Barker to years of mental abuse and even called him a "faggot."

"But don’t be confused by this explanation into thinking this is a quick/irrational decision based solely around Thursday’s event," Barker has been reported saying. "Last spring before the spring game I was called a faggot for my spiritual views by Coach Reeves where other players on the team heard him say it."

Barker tweeted that he is an atheist. Out Sports noted that being an atheist "is even worse than being gay" on some college football teams.

The St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press reports that Kill says he doesn’t remember using the homophobic epithet.

"The only thing that I recall, again, is about the training, that it’s important that everything you’re doing has to be on the same page," Kill told the newspaper. "We have to answer to (head trainer) Ed (Lochrie). It’s no different than me having epilepsy and having to go see three different neurologists; you get so many people in the loop, you don’t know what’s what. You have to keep people in the loop."

Kill has forcefully defended himself. He told AP, ’’I feel bad for A.J. I feel bad that that’s the way he feels about the situation,. I’ll do anything I can to help him in the future, whatever he decides to do. I’m all in it for the kids. I want to see kids be successful and do well.’’

There’s also a controversy over an injury Barker received in a game. He injured his ankle twice in two consecutive games. Barker claims Kill forced him to practice, despite an MRI that showed ligament tears and a bone bruise. Kill denies he made Barker participate in practice and counters that Barker was disruptive.

’’I’m not here to win any popularity contests,’’ Kill told AP. He added that he ’’doesn’t treat our players any differently than I treat my two daughters.’’

The sports world has become stricter when it comes to athletes spewing anti-gay rhetoric. In September, the Associated Press reported that Yunel Escobar, a shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays, was suspended after wearing eye-black that displayed a homophobic slur in Spanish during a game in Boston. Although the athlete said he meant it to be a joke and as something he didn’t "intend to be offensive," the suspension was still carried through, which resulted in Escobar losing about $82,000.

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