Former NFL prospect Brad Thorson publicly came out gay over the Fourth of July holiday.

“As an athlete, I've struggled to accept my sexuality. Today, I'm proud to share who I am,” Thorson tweeted July 4 along with a link to a coming out blog post.

In his blog post, Thorson, who played for Wisconsin and Kansas from 2006-2010 and was briefly with the Arizona Cardinals, said he was inspired to act by Michael Sam, the NFL's first openly gay player, Jason Collins, the NBA's first openly gay player, and out Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims, who played college football.

(Related: Michael Sam didn't speak to boyfriend Vito Cammisano for two years.)

“If not for the strength of athletes like Jason Collins, Michael Sam and Brian Sims, I would likely still be struggling with my own cognitive dissonance,” Thorson wrote. “Each of their stories reinforced the truth that there is nothing wrong with being a competitive athlete and gay. Just as their stories helped me come to understand and accept myself, I've gotten to a point in my life where I hope to help someone else to understand his or her identity as a gay athlete.”

Thorson told the Topeka Capital-Journal that he had put off publishing his post for months over fears of a backlash but has instead received overwhelming support.

“It's honestly the opposite of what I expected. I expected a lot of silence, but it's been the exact opposite. The fact that I can't even recall all the people today alone who have just sent congratulation-type messages is overwhelming,” Thorson said.

Thorson also shared an email he received from his father stating that he was “shocked” to learn his son was gay.

“It is quite amazing to me how blindly bigoted I have allowed myself to be and for what?” Thorson's father wrote. “I think we fear what we don't fully understand. Like the monster under the bed, there's really nothing there to be afraid of! I have always and will always be the biggest advocate (except for your mom) for my kids.”