New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes should've seen the fumble coming when he sent out a homophobic tweet likening homophobia to arachnophobia. After causing quite a stir, Spike excused himself by simply saying, "It's a joke."

On Wednesday, Spikes compared his fear of gays to a fear of spiders.

Spikes then receievd a slew of criticism from those who said his comments were insensitive and served as a bad example for children who look up to him.

"Gay jokes, how clever...remember you are a rode model for kids around the world. October is also anti-bullying month," tweeted one user. "Your homophobic jokes make me as a New England Patriots fan for most of my life ashamed. I hope the Patriots suspend you," responded another. "Gotta hand it to @BrandonSpikes55 for crafting a tweet that makes him sound simultaneously like a tough guy homophobe AND a complete weenie," wrote another.

Spikes, who was recently fined $21,000 for unnecessary roughness during a game, retweeted many of the messages sent to him, snapping at some of his critics with responses like "Bite Me !!!," "#Blocked" and "feel special now?"

Eventually, though, he relented.

But as Boston.com notes, Spike's tweets tend to be vulgar and sensational. Last month, his comparison of NFL replacement refs to Foot Locker employees even made headlines.

Gay rights issues in professional sports have a decided dichotomy.

Some players disappoint, such as Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar, who wore eye-black inscribed with a homophobic slur written in Spanish, which translated to "You are a faggot." He was later suspended.

Others have tried to fight for equality. Baltimore Ravens' Brendon Ayanbadejo, for example, is a champion of gay marriage rights.

Maryland legalized gay marriage earlier this year, but some did not approve of Ayanbadejo using his platform to support the issue. Ayanbadejo recently went up against local pastor and state house of delegates-member Emmett C. Burns Jr. (D-Baltimore County) when Burns tried to silence him, Yahoo! Sports reported.

Ayanbadejo has estimated that 70 percent of NFL players support same-sex marriage, ESPN notes.

Related on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Chris Brown

    Exactly how effective Brown's anger management classes are going is questionable, given the series of<a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/chris_brown_drops_n-bombs_homophobic/218318" target="_hplink"> homophobic, racially-charged tweets</a> he sent out last December after rapper Raz, formerly of the group B2K, set him off. "@razb2k n---a you want attention!" he wrote. "Grow up n----a!!! Dick in da ass lil boy...Tell me this @razb2k!! Why when the money was coming in u won't complaining about getting butplugged! #homothug!!!" Later, Brown wrote, "I'm not homophobic! He's just disrespectful!!!"

  • Roland Martin

    CNN's Martin <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/06/roland-martin-david-beckham-glaad-super-bowl_n_1257036.html" target="_hplink">came under fire from gay rights groups</a> after tweeting that people should "smack the ish out" of male fans of a steamy Super Bowl commercial starring David Beckham. Martin, who has been a longtime analyst for CNN, was actively tweeting throughout the Super Bowl. After an H&M <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/30/david-beckham-hm-underwear-commercial_n_1241519.html" target="_hplink">commercial featuring Beckham clad only in his underwear aired</a>, Martin tweeted messages making fun of men who may have liked the ad. He wrote that "real bruhs" would not purchase underwear advertised by Beckham, and that people should "smack the ish out" of a male supporter of the ad.

  • Hope Akpan

    The British soccer player found himself in hot water after <a href="http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2011/11/16/footballer-fined-1200-for-fully-homophobic-tweet/" target="_hplink">the following comment appeared</a> on his Twitter account: "Gays all over the tele what's wrong with Britain! Sorry I'm #FullyHomophobic." Akpan quickly apologized and denied sending the tweet himself, saying that someone in his family posted the comment without his knowledge. It was subsequently deleted.

  • Blake Shelton

    No stranger to perceived homophobia, Shelton was heavily criticized <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/blakeshelton/status/65999662171172865" target="_hplink">after he tweeted</a>, "Re-writing my fav Shania Twain song ... Any man that tries touching my behind he's gonna be a beaten, bleedin', heaving kind of guy." He later apologized for the gaffe via Twitter, noting: <blockquote>Hey y'all allow me to <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/blakeshelton/status/66171257435066368" target="_hplink">seriously apologize</a> for the misunderstanding with the whole re-write on the Shania song last night...</blockquote> <blockquote>It honestly <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/blakeshelton/status/66171941303762944" target="_hplink">wasn't even meant</a> that way... I now know that their are people out there waiting to jump at everything I say on here or anywhere</blockquote> <blockquote>But when it comes to<a href="https://twitter.com/#!/blakeshelton/status/66173127956242432" target="_hplink"> gay/lesbian rights</a> or just feelings... I love everybody. So go look for a real villain and leave me out of it!!!</blockquote> The original lyrics are, "Any man of mine better walk the line/ Better show me a teasin', squeezin', pleasin' kinda time."

  • Cee Lo Green

    In June, the singer and "The Voice" co-host<a href="https://twitter.com/#!/ceelogreen" target="_hplink"> lashed out on Twitter</a> after a Minnesota music editor gave an episode of the hit series a lackluster review. He tweeted: "I respect your criticism, but be fair! People enjoyed last night! I'm guessing you're gay? And my masculinity offended you? Well f--k you!" As E Online is reporting, Cee Lo <a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/cee_lo_says_sorry_outrageous_homophobic/248478" target="_hplink">attempted an apology </a>on Twitter, writing: "Apologies gay community! What was homophobic about that? I said I was guessing he [was] gay which is fine but its nice to [know] what u think of me." The comment was deleted shortly thereafter.

  • Katy Perry

    Though her pop hits "I Kissed A Girl" and "Ur So Gay" have made her an icon in the gay community, Perry nonetheless was called transphobic when she posted a naked photo of a transgender person (a hairy body with breasts) <a href="http://www.glaad.org/2009/12/21/i-kissed-a-girl-singer-katy-perry-ridicules-transgender-community-on-twitter/" target="_hplink">alongside the caption</a>, "NSFW! I knew those little white last week of the birth control pills would still have an effect on your body! FU."

  • 50 Cent

    The rapper was slammed <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/50cent/status/23161813105" target="_hplink">after he tweeted</a>: "Perez Hilton calld me douchebag so I had my homie shoot up a gay wedding. wasnt his but still made me feel better." He was also called particularly insensitive <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/50cent/status/25954812348" target="_hplink">when he tweeted:</a> "If you a man and your over 25 and you don't eat pu**y just kill your self damn it. The world will be a better place. Lol"

  • Stephanie Rice

    The triple Olympic swimming gold medalist <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1310063/Australian-swimmer-Stephanie-Rice-apologises-homophobic-Twitter-slur.html" target="_hplink">lost a major sponsorship</a> after she tweeted, 'Suck on that faggots" when Australia's rugby union team, the Wallabies, defeated South Africa's Springboks in 2010. She later apologized, saying, "My comments were thoughtless and careless but I can assure you when I made those comments on Twitter I never intended to offend anybody."

  • The Game

    The Game <a href="http://www.thegrio.com/entertainment/games-homophobic-hysterics-hurt-hip-hops-image.php" target="_hplink">first offered his take on homosexuality</a> in general in an interview, noting, "Game has a problem with people that are pretending not to be gay and are gay because the number one issue with that is that you could be fooling somebody and you could give them AIDS and they can die and so that in the closet sh*t is real scary." When TMZ wrote up the interview, he <a href="http://www.thegrio.com/entertainment/the-game-calls-out-closeted-gay-rappers.php" target="_hplink">reportedly tweeted</a>, "TMZ but look around, shit I be surprised when I see someone who's not GAY. My girl hair stylist is GAY & he kool. @50cent GAY n we was kool."

  • Kristian Phillips

    A tweet by Welsh rugby player Phillips read, "Aaron is the biggest loser I have ever seen, trying to turn it around and make Jay and Louise look bad! #BBUK #Faggot #Gimp #Getalife," allegedly referring to 2011's "Big Brother" winner Aaron Allard-Morgan, who kissed a male contestant on the show, <em>Pink News</em><a href="http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2011/11/16/ospreys-rugby-team-silent-on-players-alleged-gay-slur/" target="_hplink"> is reporting</a>. That tweet has since been deleted.

  • Soulja Boy

    Though he later claimed his account had been hacked, Soulja Boy got heat when the following message<a href="http://www.essence.com/2011/06/23/celebrity-homophobic-rants/#kobes_poor_courtside_behavioral" target="_hplink"> reportedly appeared on his Twitter</a>: "I'm gonna keep talking sh*t to these white f*ggots until they unlike my page. f**king weirdo stalkers!"

  • Antony Golec

    Golec, an Australian soccer player, was <a href="http://fromthebeanbag.com/2011/11/06/a-league-stars-homophobic-tweet/" target="_hplink">slammed as homophobic</a> after he tweeted remarks about a referee. Golec obviously disagreed with Foschini's red card, first tweeting "Ben Williams worst referee ever" before posting "Ben Williams you are gay, biggest homo going around, you gypsy."

  • Jeremy Fuller

    In June, Fuller -- a contract Red Bull racing crewman -- was <a href="http://www.scenedaily.com/news/articles/sprintcupseries/Red_Bull_crewman_fired_for_homophobic_tweets.html" target="_hplink">fired after posting a photo</a> of a gay pride banner on a car in San Francisco with the comment, "This is way [sic] I don't live here!" Though he removed the posts, he was nonetheless terminated from his position. "It was a joke between two friends and it cost me both of my jobs," Fuller said. "I'm not racist and I do not hate gay people. It wasn't intended to be what [it appeared]."

  • Robert Peston

    The BBC's Business Editor Robert Peston is <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2061819/Robert-Peston-rubbishes-Twitter-homophobia-criticism-bonkers-Queer-Street-row.html" target="_hplink">currently fighting homophobia claims</a>, after he posted an article to his Twitter account which read, "The Debt Management Office, has taken a reassuringly long-term approach to managing the UK government's debts - and without its prudence, we might all be in Queer Street or Skid Row by now." Two hours later, in response to the flurry of criticism, Peston wrote, "Some of you seem to think my use of the phrase 'Queer Street' is in some way homophobic. Bonkers."

  • Ian Krol

    The Oakland A's suspended pitching prospect Ian Krol (not pictured) this summer after he posted "a derogatory comment that included a homophobic slur and offensive language," <a href="http://eye-on-baseball.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22297882/30579481" target="_hplink">according to </a><em>The San Francisco Chronicle</em>. The tweet, which has since been deleted,<a href="http://larrybrownsports.com/baseball/as-prospect-ian-krol-suspended-for-offensive-tweet-involving-gay-slur/76657" target="_hplink"> reportedly read</a>: "ASU is a bunch of fake a** f***, get on one knee a **** **, I'm better than you'll ever be..."