In an interview with LGBT sports blog
Outsports, former professional football player Esera Tuaolo
said that he believes the NFL is ready for an openly gay player.
Tuaolo publicly came out as gay in
2002, after a 10-year career in the NFL.
At the time, he said that the NFL was
not ready for a gay player.
“People ask me if I think a superstar
football player will ever come out during his playing days,” he
wrote in ESPN the Magazine. “I hate to be negative, but I
don't see it happening. The league just isn't ready for it, and
neither are the fans.”
Nearly 20 years later, Tuaolo has
changed his mind.
“Yes, I do think someone will come
out in the near future,” he said during an appearance on The
Sports Kiki, an Outsports podcast. “We can't let down. I
think the thing we learned in 2020 is that we're all in it together,
people. There's no separate group.”
He added that attitudes among players
have changed since he was a professional athlete.
Tuaolo, who goes by the nickname Mr.
Aloha, said that being closeted in the NFL was traumatic.
“Every single day I woke up back
then, I walked into the locker room, and transformed myself into
someone I wasn’t: a straight man,” he
said. “That right there, looking over my shoulder, hearing all
the negative things and stuff in the locker room about fags and
queers and discriminating women, listening the players talk about who
they banged and stuff. Shit, man. Of course, my life is so much
better than back then.”
“We're changing it by players coming
out, showing society who we are as a community, which is amazing,”