Tags: ryan ocallaghan | lineman | played | gay | nfl

Ryan O'Callaghan, Offensive Lineman, Played Gay in NFL

Image: Ryan O'Callaghan, Offensive Lineman, Played Gay in NFL
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By    |   Thursday, 22 Jun 2017 06:06 AM

Ryan O'Callaghan, who blocked for Aaron Rodgers in college and Tom Brady in the NFL, played football secretly as a gay man and considered suicide after his playing career, the former offensive lineman told Sports Illustrated and Outsports this week.

O'Callaghan said he came to the realization that he was gay in junior high school and played football because that's what his friends did.

O'Callaghan said football then became a perfect cover for him because playing the sport seemed to defy many gay stereotypes, said Outsports.

"No one is going to assume the big football player is gay," O'Callaghan said, who grew to be 6-foot-7 with his playing weight at 330 pounds. "It's why a football team is such a good place to hide."

Evelyn O'Callaghan, his mother, told Outsports in a phone interview said she did not know about her son's sexual orientation.

"I wish I'd known, I wish I had been more aware," Evelyn O'Callaghan said. "But he just wasn't any different from the kid down the street. He was focused on class and school. He was active in sports. He played football in high school and he would just always seem very focused."

After playing for the University of California, O'Callaghan went to the NFL. He was a member of the New England Patriots during their undefeated regular season in 2007 that went to the Super Bowl and then the Chiefs, all the time hiding that he was gay, noted Outsports. The Boston Herald said he appeared in 26 games in all for the Patriots, including seven starts.

He started battling injuries in 2011 and began abusing painkillers. Contemplating suicide, O'Callaghan said he decided to come out to a select group of people first.

He said instead of rejection, he found acceptance, particularly in Chiefs' general manager Scott Pioli, who told O'Callaghan that he wasn't even the first gay NFL player he counseled, noted Outsports. That helped give him the courage to come out in 2014 when he was inducted into the Shasta County Sports Hall of Fame.

"Being gay wasn't just a small detail in my life, it consumed it," O'Callaghan told Outsports. "It's all I would think about. But now that I have come out it rarely crosses my mind. Yeah I'd go about my daily life in football, but thinking about hiding it and hoping no one finds out and being ready for any situation was exhausting."

O'Callaghan told Outsports that he is now telling his story to help other and to bring more purpose to his life.

"People need to understand that we are everywhere," he said, per Outsports. "We're your sons, your daughters, your teammates, your neighbors. And honestly, even some of your husbands and wives. You just don't know it yet.”

"It's not always easy being honest, but I can tell you it's much easier and more enjoyable being yourself and not living a lie," he added.

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Ryan O'Callaghan, who blocked for Aaron Rodgers in college and Tom Brady in the NFL, played football secretly as a gay man and considered suicide after his playing career, the former offensive lineman revealed this week.
ryan ocallaghan, lineman, played, gay, nfl
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2017-06-22
Thursday, 22 Jun 2017 06:06 AM
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