WFAA/Channel 8 anchor Dale Hansen made his much-publicized appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Friday, as the openly gay DeGeneres praised Hansen for his commentary “Celebrating Our Differences,” about the NFL’s reaction to Missouri defensive end and draft prospect Michael Sam’s announcement Sunday that he is gay.
“Speaking as a gay person, we really do need people like you,” DeGeneres told Hansen during the seven-minute segment, which was taped Thursday and available on YouTube before the show aired at 1 p.m. Friday on KXAS/Channel 5. “We need heterosexual people that speak out ... because I can only do so much and say so much.”
In Hansen’s original commentary, which aired Monday night on WFAA, he told people who are “uncomfortable” about gays in locker rooms to get over it, and lambasted NFL officials for tacitly accepting criminal behavior by some of its players while saying that Sam’s admission that he is gay could hurt his draft chances.
“Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes?,” Hansen said during the “Hansen Unplugged” segment. “We know they’re welcome. Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away? You lie to police trying to cover up a murder? We’re comfortable with that. You love another man? Well, now you’ve gone too far!”
Hansen told DeGeneres that he has received some heat for his commentary, but that overall the reaction has been positive.
“I’ve gotten calls from Christians, some who don’t like me now, but from atheists, old people, young people, black, white, Jewish, Catholic, every spectrum of America,” Hansen said during the Ellen segment. “Almost every state of the union has called and the response has been so incredibly overwhelmingly positive that I think there is a pretty good future if not for me there’s a pretty good future for my children and my grandchildren.”
Hansen has said that he was shocked by the reaction to the commentary, which has gained attention worldwide and from places as diverse as Rush Limbaugh’s nationally syndicated radio show (Limbaugh pointed out on Thursday’s show, which airs on WBAP/820 AM that forgiveness of criminal behavior goes well beyond the NFL and asked “Why is there a political agenda attached to men who love other men?”) and liberal website The Daily Kos.
Hansen told DeGeneres that maybe some of the attention has to do not just with his viewpoint, but with stereotyping of sports reporters and Texans.
“I think a lot of people who saw it and were hesitant about what I was going to say painted me with that same stereotype for us,” Hansen said. “They just automatically assume that a Michael Sam can't play in the NFL if he's gay. They might automatically assume that an old, fat, white guy from Texas would be opposed to that and I think we're slowly breaking down the barriers from both sides.”
The Hansen segment began on a more easy-going note, with Hansen mentioning that he had seen DeGeneres perform years ago in Dallas and saying that she hadn’t changed a single bit. Hansen’s wife, Chris, attended the taping and appeared on-air from the audience. “I am so proud of him,” Chris Hansen said, adding that she watches the show every day. “This is the greatest Valentine’s gift in the world, to be on Ellen!”
“It did get me nominated for Husband of the Decade,” Hansen quipped. “I’m working on the millennium. And I thank [DeGeneres] for giving me the cheapest Valentine’s gift I’ve ever given.”
This might not be Hansen’s last appearance, either. “I want to help you give your wife another Valentine's Day gift,” DeGeneres said. “Not only was this probably enough for her but we want you to come back for one of our 12 Days of Giveaways. I'll see you again.”