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Falcons get training by counselor after improper question
NFL Combine Football Heal 2
Ohio State defensive back Eli Apple runs a drill at the NFL scouting combine, Feb. 29, in Indianapolis. - photo by Associated Press

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons on Monday said secondary coach Marquand Manuel asked the inappropriate question "Do you like men" to Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple during the NFL's annual scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Manuel and the rest of the Atlanta staff received social training on Monday from a counselor approved by the league. Falcons coach Dan Quinn said there was additional training for Manuel.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told The Associated Press in an email on Monday "Our review of the matter continues."

Manuel issued an apology to Apple and Falcons owner Arthur Blank, among others.

"I take full responsibility for the inappropriate question I asked at the combine. It was wrong and I apologize to Eli Apple, Mr. Blank, the entire Falcons organization, my family, and our Falcon fans for my insensitivity," Manuel said in a statement released by the team.

"I understand it was inappropriate and the offense people have taken to it. I have had an individual counseling session on social responsibility today, and was part of a staff session as well, and found it very valuable in learning from this situation. Moving forward, I will become a better man by going through all of this."

Quinn said Manuel asked the question during a conversation between he and Apple and not in the team's formal 15-minute interview with the cornerback.

"Following my discussions with the coaches, we have taken additional steps to ensure our entire staff is well educated on the appropriate questions and comments that should be made during these processes," Quinn said.

"We had a training seminar with a league-approved counselor here at our facility today with our entire coaching staff regarding social responsibility. Our organization holds itself to a very high standard and we will learn from this."

Manuel worked with Quinn on the Seattle staff when Quinn was the Seahawks' defensive coordinator for two years. Manuel followed Quinn to Atlanta when Quinn was named head coach before the 2015 season.

Manuel also worked with Quinn as an intern in 2011 when Quinn was defensive coordinator at the University of Florida.

In addition to working with the secondary, Manuel holds the title of senior defensive assistant with the Falcons.

Manuel, a sixth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2001, played eight years with six teams in the league as a defensive back.

The Falcons did not identify Manuel as the coach who asked the question when the team apologized on Friday. In that apology, Quinn said "this is not what the Atlanta Falcons are about and it is not how we are going to conduct ourselves."

It was a difficult combine for Falcons defensive assistant coaches.

Defensive line coach Bryan Cox also apologized last week following reports he shoved an Arizona Cardinals scout in a dispute over access to a rookie during the interviews.