Every NFL team has at least one gay or bisexual player, but they refuse to come forward because they fear a kickback, according to an openly retired gay offensive lineman.
As NFL veteran Ryan O & # 39; Callaghan told Reuters, homosexual players stay in the closet because, in their opinion, hatching can cost them sponsorship or even a selection spot.
Since the public revealed his sexual orientation in 2017, O & Callaghan said he regularly hears from current NFL players in the closet.
& # 39; I can promise you that there are a lot of closed NFL players & # 39 ;, said O & # 39; Callaghan, who played from 2006 to 2011 for the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs.
& # 39; I think it is safe to say that in every team there is at least one who is gay or bisexual. Many boys still see it as a potential negative impact on their career. & # 39;
As NFL veteran Ryan O & # 39; Callaghan told Reuters, homosexual players stay in the closet because, in their opinion, hatching can cost them sponsorship or even a selection spot. In his upcoming book, & # 39; My Life on the Line: How the NFL Damn Near Killed Me and Ended Up Saving My Life & # 39 ;, O & # 39; Callaghan shares the exhausting mental game of beating in the NFL
O & # 39; Callaghan (No. 68) kept his sexual orientation secret from the moment he was drafted by the Patriots in 2006 through his tenure with the Chiefs who ended in 2011
O & # 39; Callaghan said the NFL in recent years & # 39; small things & # 39; has done to show support for the LGBT + community, including sponsoring the Pride Parade in New York City, but has provided players with insufficient resources.
The former assault equipment kept his sexual orientation secret from the moment he was drafted by the Patriots in 2006 through his tenure with the Chiefs that ended in 2011.
It was the chief psychologist who helped him through suicidal thoughts and an addiction to painkillers – and to build up the courage to come to his family.
In his upcoming book, & # 39; My Life on the Line: How the NFL Damn Near Killed Me and Ended Up Saving My Life & # 39; from Sept. 3, O & # 39; Callaghan shares the tiring mental game of passing for straight into the NFL.
While O & Callaghan said that most of his fears of hatching were family-related, he believes that contract guarantees could reduce the fear of some athletes losing their jobs or sponsorship contracts if they came true.
& # 39; I just don't think people understand reality, & # 39; said O & # 39; Callaghan. & # 39; We can still be fired because we are gay or services are refused because we are trans. & # 39;
Retired Minnesota Viking's defensive tackle Esera Tuaolo (left) came out of the closet after his retirement. Former SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam (right) struggled to stay in the NFL after joining the University of Missouri Tigers
Former San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders offensive tackle Kwame Harris has been released
More than half of LGBT + Americans live in states without protection against discrimination at work, at school and elsewhere.
In 2017, the competition launched NFL Pride, an affinity group that was intended to support LGBT + employees and create a more inclusive environment, but the move did not lead to a wave of players about their sexuality.
& # 39; It requires a striking player who is currently playing to really make a difference, & # 39; said O & # 39; Callaghan.
Throughout the world, LGBT + athletes such as India & # 39; s trackster Dutee Chand and American footballer Megan Rapinoe have raised the profile of LGBT + athletes and their inherent struggles.
But in large American male sports competitions, progress has been slow.
Football player Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay athlete to play actively in the American Major League Sports in 2013, followed later that year by basketball player Jason Collins, who came away while he was briefly out of the NBA but then signed with the Brooklyn Nets.
The NFL must still see an openly gay player on the field, and fewer than 10 are retired.
The first was David Kopay, now 77, who started talking about his sexuality in 1975, three years after his retirement. Kopay shared the experience of hiding his sexuality from the competition and his family in a 1977 bestseller book, & # 39; The David Kopay Story & # 39 ;.
Sports stars such as WNBA player Sue Bird (right) and American footballer Megan Rapinoe (left) have raised the profile of LGBT + athletes and their inherent struggles
In 2014, player Michael Sam started to be gay before being called up for the St. Louis Rams, but was eventually cut out of the team before playing a professional game.
Sam then played for the Montreal Alouettes as the first openly gay player in the Canadian football competition before retiring for mental health reasons in 2015.
Other openly gay former NFL players include Oakland Raider's offensive tackle Kwame Harris, and retired Minnesota Viking's defensive tackle Esera Tuaolo.
As one of the few openly former former American professional athletes, the goal of R & D Callaghan became easier for future athletes to be open about their sexuality and gender identity long before they started professional sports.
He has worked with the NFL and partner charities who organize youth outreach events and launched his own organization that strives to offer athletic scholarships and mentorship to young LGBT + athletes.
& # 39; You must explain (young people): & # 39; You meet some ignorant people, but you have to be confident that they are catching up with the rest of the world and understanding that you are who you are, & # 39; & # 39; he said.
As a teenager in rural California, O & Callaghan internalized the cheerful jokes and discriminatory language he heard in his community, and became convinced that his family would hate him because he was gay. Football was a way to hide who he was.
Reaching parents, especially fathers, has become just as important as guiding young people, said O & Callaghan.
& # 39; I always tell parents, & # 39; your words matter. Your children listen. & # 39; & # 39;
The book by O & # 39; Callaghan, which was released days before the kick-off of the football season, will help support the Ryan O & # 39; Callaghan Foundation.
While O & Callaghan said that most of his fears of hatching were family-related, he believes that contract guarantees could reduce the fear of some athletes losing their jobs or sponsorship contracts if they came true. NFL player contracts are currently not guaranteed deals
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