Gay flag football players announce Cardinals' third-round draft pick

Posted at 5:00 PM, Apr 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-01 10:10:31-04

LAS VEGAS, NV — The Arizona Cardinals helped spread a message of inclusivity during the 2022 draft this week.

The team selected members of the National Gay Flag Football League (NGFFL) to announce their 3rd round pick.

“Both the NFL and the Cardinals enjoy strong support from a large, diverse fan base and the LGBTQ+ community is certainly part of that," said Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill.

Bidwill adds, "Including members of this community among the many fans representing teams throughout the draft is part of an important and intentional effort that these types of league events reflect as wide and inclusive a cross-section of our fan base as possible."

Joel Horton & Michael Bidwill NGFFL

The team's selection was read by the group's representative Joel Horton who was joined by NGFFL Commissioner Shigeo Iwamiya and Jodie Turner, who is on the NGFFL Board of Directors.

Horton has spent several years playing for the league in Phoenix (PGFFL) and is currently the NGFFL's Gay Bowl liaison.

"It's overwhelming," Horton told ABC15.

Horton become the first openly gay person to announce an NFL draft pick.

NGFFL Commissioner Iwamiya applauded the NFL's efforts to highlight certain groups on such a large platform.

"They could have easily done this without us, right, but the fact they went out of their way to do this means so much to a sports organization regardless of who they are," said Iwamiya.

Shigeo Seattle Lumen Field.jpg
Jodie Turner, Sam Lehman, Shigeo Iwamiya at Lumen Field in Seattle where Gay Bowl 2023 will be hosted.

The Cardinals were scheduled to make their 3rd round pick on Friday in Las Vegas at the no. 87 spot overall.

Horton said he hopes people watching the draft will accept LGBTQ+ members as part of the sports community.

"I hope young people who are looking for a way forward and who might be LGBTQ+, or might think they are or whatever the case may be, can see this as something they can identify with going forward," he said.

"Then others who might be triggered in a negative way, I welcome that too -- we're here, we're part of the greater community and it's important to be seen that way."

In May 2021, the Arizona Cardinals were a big sponsor for Gay Bowl in Tempe. Teams from all over the country traveled to the Valley to participate in the annual tournament.

This year's event is being held in Hawaii, while Seattle will host it in 2023.