NFL hopeful Michael Sam’s coming out story has not only sent shockwaves throughout the world of sports, it’s also given athletes both new and old hope that he could very well be the openly gay player to kick down the door of oppression and make it into the NFL. One of those older players, Esera Tuaolo, recently spoke with the Huffington Post about the importance of Sam coming out and how it’s personally given him hope for change.
Tuaolo, author of Alone in the Trenches: My Life as a Gay Man in the NFL, made national headlines in 2002 when he came out as a gay man with a partner and kids after he retired from the NFL.
While speaking with host Marc Lamont Hill about the struggles closeted gay players have faced in the NFL, Tuaolo explained that Sam will have an easier time then he did, thanks to the changing climate about gays in professional sports.
“I’d rather have what he’s gonna get other than the things that I went through, and that’s being in the closet and worrying about somebody outing me and living with depression and living with stress and living with anxiety attacks and living with suicidal tendencies,” Tuaolo, who played for the Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers during his NFL career, said.
Tuaolo explains that he wished he would’ve felt comfortable enough to come out during his career, but he explains that things were harder, even a decade ago, for gay players than they are now.
“Now (players and coaches) are held accountable for their actions and for their words,” Tuaolo said of the homophobic climate in the NFL locker room. “If it was like that when I was playing, yeah, maybe I would’ve felt comfortable coming out, if I felt like I had the support.”
Tuaolo wasn’t the only one who shared words of praise for Sam. Check out what Dallas Sports anchor Dale Hansen had to say about Sam coming out after the cut. – nicholas robinson