Is the NFL really ready for an openly gay player?
That was one of the questions the retired NFL offensive tackle Ryan O’Callaghan was asked in his video interview.
O’Callaghan was originally drafted by the New England Patriots in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL Draft and he stood at 6-foot-7, 330 pound and he worked hard to hide that secret that he was gay from everyone, including his family.
O’Callaghan says that he even played the part of the interested man when he and his teammates were out at bars together too.
He would talking up a female and when he would leave, he made sure that the guys saw him walking arm and arm with her.
O’Callaghan wouldn’t face himself as a gay man and he wouldn’t allow anyone else to either… one way he avoided other people would not shower with the team after ames or practice.
At 33, O’Callaghan is finally coming out and he did so on Tuesday in Outsports feature.
His original plan for his life as a gay man was to play the game, retire and commit suicide.
He played the game for the Patriots until his numerous injuries got him cut in 2009, but when the Patriots former Vice President became the Kansas Chiefs GM, he brought O’Callaghan on. He played from 2009-2011 until he retired due to injures.
“I started spending all my money to put myself in a position where it would be impossible, or at least extremely difficult, to back out of killing myself,” O’Callaghan told Outsports.
He admitted to having a $400 per day drug addiction to pain killers and he also purchased a $70,000 cabin in KC too.
He was lucky he met a psychologist for the Chiefs, Susan Wilson, because she saved his life and she helped him come out and not to be ashamed of being gay too.
“All I had ever done was think how bad the reaction would be,” O’Callaghan said. “It takes a lot more strength to be honest with yourself than it does to lie. It took awhile t build you that strength to even tell her. You have to build up trust with someone. Just telling her was like a huge weight off my shoulders.”
He was still thinking suicide, but he had a meeting with the Chiefs GM Pioli and he came out to him too. It was a huge leap forward and it was something changed his way of thinking about being gay.
O’Callaghan said that he told Pioli, “I’m gay.” and Pioli just stood there looking at him and said, “So what’s the problem you wanted to talk me about?”
To O’Callaghan’s surprise, he wasn’t the first gay NFL player to come out to Pioli and it wasn’t a big deal to Pioli either. After sitting with Pioli, O’Callaghan started living his life, something he didn’t allow himself to do before.
“Being gay wasn’t just a small detail in my life, it consumed it,” O’Callaghan said. “It’s all I would think about. But now that I have come out, it rarely crosses my mind. Yeah, I’d go about my daily life in football, but thinking about hiding it and hoping no one finds out and being ready for any situation was exhausting.”
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