11 months ago
In recent history, few professional athletes in America have come out as gay because of the utter lack of support and acceptance for them within their sports and own locker rooms. And the NFL, with its aura of machismo, has been particularly devoid of examples—even after Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted a few years back.
That secret nearly became Ryan O’Callaghan’s unraveling, reports SB Nation. The tackle, whose four-year career saw stints with the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, has come out as gay.
Prior to his career in the NFL, O’Callaghan blocked for future Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at Cal.
He told SB Nation that he effectively “hid” his sexuality behind the guise of football. “No one is going to assume the big football player is gay….It’s why a football team is such a good place to hide.”
Sadly, it was his goal to play football and then, after retiring from the sport, commit suicide. After retiring in 2010, O’Callaghan began to abuse painkillers and “recklessly” spend money—including buying a cabin where he planned to eventually kill himself.
Still doing physical therapy at the Chiefs’ facility, the team’s trainer encouraged O’Callaghan to seek the advice of the team’s clinical psychologist. She was the first person to whom he came out, and basically, saved his life. He would end up slowly coming out to a number of others, including then Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, who welcomed him with open arms.
Learn more about O’Callaghan’s courageous story in the video below.