When Ron Brown was an assistant coach for the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team, between 1987-2003 and again from 2008-2014, he made it a point to talk about how much he despised homosexuality.
He once gave as interview as State Director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in which he compared being gay to “thieves, liars, people who lust, people addicted to pornography, even some players who are alcoholics.”
He once spoke at a meeting of the Omaha City Council to argue against an anti-discrimination ordinance that would’ve protected LGBTQ people. He also told the council that his home address was identical to the Cornhuskers’ stadium.
The point is: Ron Brown continuously used his position with the Cornhuskers to advance his Christian ministry, and his bigoted beliefs were always front and center. In that interview he gave, he even said a good Christian should “put your arms around that person struggling with homosexuality and you help walk him or her to the truth of Jesus Christ, just as you would any other player involved in any other sin.” In other words: Don’t let it slide.
So whatever happened to that guy?
After a three-year stint coaching at Liberty University (where I’m sure he fit right in), the Cornhuskers have just hired Brown as Director of Player Development.
That means, according to the school’s press release, that he “will serve in a non-coaching role, mentoring Husker football student-athletes in numerous off-field development areas.”
The school wants this bigot to show players how to become decent human beings. Because irony has no limits.
Just to be clear, there’s no evidence that Brown treated gay players differently, or cut their playing time, or attempted to perform conversion therapy on them. His bigotry only made itself known off the field — albeit, in some cases, using his position with the team to advance those views. That merging of the two worlds, not the beliefs themselves, is what got him in so much trouble when he was an assistant coach.
But now that he’s being hired as a mentor to players, how can any gay players seriously trust him?
That’s what Eric Lueshen, a former Cornhusker and openly gay player, wants to know. He’s urging the team (and Brown himself) to get out in front of this story and address how they will be inclusive of all players.
I know there are a lot of Husker fans, especially those who identify as LGBTQ, who are feeling shocked and even hurt by this new hire. I understand, and your feelings are valid. I urge Nebraska Football, Husker Athletics, and Ron Brown to stand up and address this in whatever manner they feel necessary. If you stay silent on this topic, however, your silence will be experienced as rejection, and you will continue to lose more of your fan base.
He’s right. The school should make abundantly clear that no proselytizing will be accepted while Brown is on the clock. Christianity in no way makes someone a better person, and if Brown tells players that faith is a key part of their development or suggests that being gay is a problem that needs correcting, he should be out of the job in a second.
No school official has said that yet. All the more reason for fans and players to be concerned about what they’re trying to hide.