Former New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Ryan O’Callaghan came out publicly as gay in an Outsports story published Tuesday.
O’Callaghan played six years in the NFL before injuries ended his career.
In the story, he describes hiding his sexuality from family and teammates, as well as dealing with suicidal thoughts over his sexual orientation.
O’Callaghan told Outsports he first realized he was gay in junior high school but decided to play football, from college at the University of California to the NFL, in large part to hide his sexuality.
“No one is going to assume the big football player is gay,” he told Outsports. “It’s why a football team is such a good place to hide.”
O’Callaghan admitted in the story to abusing painkillers not just because of injuries he sustained in his playing career, but because it helped him manage inner turmoil over his sexuality.
O’Callaghan says he planned to kill himself after his football career, but a counselor who worked with the Chiefs helped him change his mind.
“All I had ever done was think how bad the reaction would be,” O’Callaghan told Outsports. “It takes a lot more strength to be honest with yourself than it does to lie. It took a while to build up 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.”
Former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli was also supportive of O’Callaghan when he revealed his sexuality to him during a conversation in Pioli’s office.
“People like me are supposed to react a certain way, I guess,” Pioli told Outsports. “I wasn’t minimizing what…
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