In an ESPN profile published Thursday, NFL free agent Ryan Russell said that he identifies as bisexual.

Russell, 27, who most recently played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, told ESPN that growing up he struggled between what he described as two worlds.

“I always felt as though my existence slipped between the cracks of two worlds. I wasn’t flamboyant, tidy, or any other stereotypes kids are forced to construct their world around,” he said. “I wasn’t straight, hyper-masculine or aggressive; I cried quite a bit, and, as a young black man, I didn’t fit the bill. I played football – so I put that in the straight column. I wrote poetry and romance stories – so I put that in the gay column. Those two objectives shouldn’t be in conflict. But judging from the fact that there isn’t a single openly LGBTQ player in the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, or the NHL, brings me pause. I want to change that – for me, for other athletes who share these common goals, and for the generations of LGBTQ athletes who will come next.”

He said that he saw his being closeted as a form of “deceit.”

“Have I lied to teammates, coaches, trainers, front-office executives and fans about who I am?” Russell said. “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.”

Russell added that he once had to ask a blogger who learned that he also dated men not to out him.

“I was sure that would kill my career,” he said. “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.”