Ryan Russell: NFL free agent comes out as bisexual
"We might miss out on the next Tom Brady or great athlete, just because of a stigma we can easily break, by claiming who we are and who we've always been"
Last Updated: 29/08/19 10:21pm
NFL free agent defensive end Ryan Russell has come out as bisexual.
Russell is currently looking to get back into the league after missing last season with a shoulder injury.
Were he to be picked up by a team he would be the only active out LGBTQ player in one of the big four men's US team sports (NFL, MLB, NHL or NBA).
The 27-year-old said that after he met with an NFL team earlier this month, he told himself, "This is the last time I will ever interview for a job as anything other than my full self."
"Have I lied to teammates, coaches, trainers, front-office executives and fans about who I am? Not exactly," Russell told ESPN.
"But withholding information is a form of deceit. And I want the next part of my career - and life - steeped in trust and honesty. My truth is that I'm a talented football player, a damn good writer, a loving son, an overbearing brother, a caring friend, a loyal lover, and a bisexual man."
"We might miss out on the next LeBron James because he's too busy trying to hide his secret, instead of live his life. We might miss out on the next Tom Brady or great athlete, just because of a stigma we can easily break, by claiming who we are and who we've always been."
The Dallas Cowboys selected Russell in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. After playing in one game as a rookie, Russell signed with Tampa Bay. In two seasons with the Buccaneers, he played in 23 games and started six, registering 20 tackles and three sacks.
He said he believes openly LGBTQ players do have a place in the NFL, and that teams, coaches and players are far too concerned with players' contributions on the field to be worried about their sexuality.
"The NFL is a multi-billion dollar entertainment entity with the power to create working conditions that allow LGBTQ people to perform their jobs like everyone else," he said.
"NFL teams who worry about the 'distractions' that would come with additional media coverage have skilled PR professionals who understand that there are bigger issues on Sunday afternoon than a quarterback being asked, 'What's it like having a bisexual teammate?'
"There are a lot of problems in the world, and a lot of issues facing the NFL. And I can say with confidence that LGBTQ players having the comfort to be themselves, date who they want, share parts of their life with friends and teammates will not rank among those issues."