NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

Openly Gay Former K-State Football Star Had Hoped To Make NFL History This Year, But The Coronavirus Got In The Way

042920_Frantz K State_K State.jpg
K-State Athletics

Many thought Scott Frantz had a shot to be drafted and make an NFL roster, but his agent says injuries and the ongoing pandemic combined to thwart his dreams.

National Football League history, it seems, may have to wait.

Former Kansas State offensive tackle Scott Frantz had hoped to become the first openly gay player to play in the NFL, but since the NFL Draft concluded April 25, he’s still without a contract. Undrafted players out of college traditionally sign contracts with teams after the draft and prior to spring camps with rookies and veterans.

“It pains me any time that I see any player that I work with not get a chance,” said Brett Tessler, by phone from his Florida office.

But in the case of Frantz, Tessler said he believes Frantz's situation is less to do with his sexuality and more about the coronavirus pandemic. Tessler says that has worked against Frantz and other undrafted players this year in particular.

And Tessler said he doesn’t believe Frantz is without an NFL deal because he’s gay.

“Most of them (NFL teams) said, ‘Hey, if the guy can play and he’s a good guy, it’s 2020, we don’t care,'” said Tessler.

A “pro day” was held at Kansas State, March 4, for Frantz and other former Wildcat football players to perform speed and agility drills first-hand at the team’s football practice facility in front of NFL scouts. But Tessler said Frantz tweaked a hamstring muscle a few days before the pro day and wasn't at his best that day.

“It (the pro day) ended up being very detrimental,” said Tessler. “The numbers (Frantz’s speed in a 40-yard dash or inches in a vertical jump for example) were not good.”

Frantz had a scheduled follow-up visit with the Kansas City Chiefs among other teams, but those visits, from which teams conduct player interviews and further physical tests, never took place because of the coronavirus.

“It completely robs guys like him another opportunity to get his foot in the door and possibly impress somebody,” said Tessler.

But no interest from all 32 teams? Could there have been any bias whatsoever against Frantz because of his sexuality?

“I got no sense of that, but that’s not to say that it couldn’t exist. Let’s not be naïve,” responded Tessler.

In 2015, University of Missouri defensive standout Michael Sam became the first openly gay football player drafted by an NFL team, when the St. Louis Rams selected him that year. But he was cut by the Rams later that year and never played in an NFL game.

What’s next for Frantz? Tessler said his client won’t rule out the Canadian Football League, which is accustomed to resuming during the summer.

That's under normal circumstances. But as Frantz has already learned: this year isn’t normal.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with essential news and information.
Your donation today keeps local journalism strong.