When professional basketball player Jason Collins announced recently that he is gay, it seemed the whole world took notice.
And with some justification. He is, after all, the first active athlete from one of the four major North American professional sports to publicly and proudly do so.
Collins' decision drew praise from President and Mrs. Obama, former President Bill Clinton, NBA Commissioner David Stern, Lakers star Kobe Bryant and numerous other athletes from basketball, football, hockey and baseball.
It was more celebratory than confessional, seen by some as a game changer in professional sports which has long been considered a bastion of testosterone-fueled homophobia.
We may not be living in the Age of Aquarius but are we entering the Age of Acceptance? Will professional sports lead us on the path to greater understanding?
Maybe. But right now, significant roadblocks remain on that path.
Consider: While everyone was focused on Collins, there were a couple of other notable sports stories taking place.
Punter Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens were released from their professional football teams.
Both had enjoyed long and successful careers, And both were outspoken advocates for gay rights, specifically marriage equality.
Both filed amicus briefs when the Supreme Court took up the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenges the California law against gay marriage as defined in Proposition 8.
"When we advance the idea that some people should be treated differently because of who they are," they wrote, "demeaned in public as lesser beings, not worthy of the same rights and benefits as others despite their actions as good citizens and neighbors, then we deny them equal protection under the laws. America has walked this path before, and courageous people and the Court brought us to the right result. We urge the Court to repeat those actions here. "
Strong words spoken by strong men which carried additional weight because neither are gay. And notable, too, because it's not the kind of talk you generally hear coming from a football locker room.
But as refreshing and insightful as it may be, you can bet it didn't represent the current thinking in the NFL.
Let's face it, the league is hardly a bastion of forward thinking. Most of the billionaire owners don't tolerate anyone to the left of Rush Limbaugh and make generous contributions to conservative causes. Marriage equality ain't one of them.
After all, this is a league that asked a college player at a scouting combine this year if he liked girls.
This is a league that heard one of its players say prior to this year's Super Bowl, " " Ain't got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff. "
This is a league that embraces equality but has yet to condemn intolerance.
But most of all, this is a league that hates controversy. And the best way to deal with boat rockers is to sink the boat.
So goodbye to Brendon. Ciao, Chris. And while were at it, so long to Tim Tebow, an evangelical Christian quarterback who won't be marching in any gay pride parades any time soon but whose religious beliefs have become an issue. Or a "distraction" as coaches like to say.
We'll never know for sure if the dumping of a couple of outspoken jocks was a result of their views or if they had simply outlived their usefulness as football players.
But it is a more than suspicious turn of events. And it sent a clear message: get arrested, fail a drug test but keep your beliefs, whatever they may be, to yourself.
What an irony it is that the NFL whose rosters are nearly 60 percent minority, an organization that historically has advanced the cause of racial equality, should now lose its voice.
Maybe the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball would be wise to follow the lead of the National Hockey League, which announced its support of gay rights and its intent to fight homophobia.
That stance led to this scene, as reported in the Canadian media: At a hockey game between a pair of bitter rivals, the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs, two gay women stood on the ice before the game. Christina, a Senators fan, asked Alicia, a Maple Leafs fan, to marry her in front of a packed arena in Ottawa. The Ottawa Senators mascot then held up a sign that said, "She said yes. "
The place erupted in cheers.