NFL veteran Ryan Russell spent three seasons in the league, playing defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2015 through 2017 after being drafted out of Purdue University, where he was a college football star.
Russell is also bisexual, as he first revealed in a powerful piece published Thursday on ESPN.com.
As he told it in his own words, the occasion of Russell’s coming-out came after the powerful defensive end worked out for an unnamed NFL team earlier this fall, hoping to win a job on their roster. He didn’t end up making the team, but he realized aft the tryout process that he wasn’t being honest with himself — or his potential football employers — about who he really is, and it was time to change that.
Reflecting on that fact, as well as how he didn’t come out as bisexual earlier in his career, Russell opened up in the piece (below):
“Have I lied to teammates, coaches, trainers, front-office executives and fans about who I am? Not exactly. But withholding information is a form of deceit. And I want the next part of my career — and life — steeped in trust and honesty. During the season you spend more time with your team than with your own family; truth and honesty are the cornerstones of a winning culture. 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.
Today, I have two goals: returning to the NFL, and living my life openly. I want to live my dream of playing the game I’ve worked my whole life to play, and being open about the person I’ve always been.”
Wow! Very direct!
Russell recounts after his rookie season, when an unnamed sports blogger contacted him and threatened to out the star (below):
“After my first season, a well-known blogger messaged me. He had come across an Instagram story of a man I was dating that included a quick snippet of me in the background. Even though the man and I were never in a post together, the dates, times and similar locations were enough evidence for the blogger to deduce that we were an item. The blogger could have revealed I was in a gay relationship. My professional world and personal world were colliding with me caught in the cataclysm. I panicked, then wrote back, reminding him that there were implications about his actions he didn’t fully understand. If the blogger outed me, I was sure that would kill my career, one that was supporting not just me, but my mother and grandfather. He’d eradicate a childhood dream that was the product of years of work and sacrifice.”
But that person didn’t out him, or even mention any of it.
“After hearing me out, know what that blogger told me? That he would grant me this favor, but that I should be more careful.”
That was the word that struck Ryan wrong. It was what changed things for him:
“Let that sink into your brain: Even though openly LGBTQ people are thriving in every area of public life — politics, entertainment, the top corporations in America — they are so invisible in pro sports that a gossip blogger is doing a favor for a bisexual football player by not disclosing that he happens to date men. Nobody should need a favor to live honestly. In nobody’s worlds should being careful mean not being yourself. The career you choose shouldn’t dictate the parts of yourself that you embrace.”
That last paragraph… AMEN! Amen to ALL of that!!!
Along with his three full seasons in the NFL, Russell was a member of the Buffalo Bills during the 2018 offseason and preseason, before being released among the final roster cuts last year. He has some real football skills, having logged 21 tackles and three sacks over 23 regular season games in his career; he even started seven games for the Buccaneers in 2017, a remarkable feat for somebody trying to establish themselves in the league.
The question, though, is whether some organization will give him another shot now that he’s come out as bisexual.
We can only hope he’s judged on his abilities on the field, rather than who he chooses to date away from it — just like it should be!
Again, if you haven’t yet, hearing the whole story in Russell’s own words is a powerful, moving experience; you can read the full coming-out piece HERE.
[Image via Instagram]
The post NFL Vet Comes Out As Bisexual, Reveals Hardship Of Hiding His Identity appeared first on Perez Hilton.