NFL free agent Ryan Russell, who has played three years in the NFL, has come out as bisexual in an ESPN feature by Kevin Arnovitz. Russell missed all of last season because of a shoulder injury and although he has had at least one tryout this offseason, he still hasn't found a job.
Russell had a tryout in early August with a team and he impressed them, but they ultimately decided they didn't need another defensive end. Russell said after the tryout he regretted not telling the team about his sexuality and did the interview with ESPN so he won't have to be hiding anything from anyone anymore.
“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.”
Russell said growing up it was tough because he was trapped in between two worlds and he had a hard time bringing them together.
“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. 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.”
Russell has dated both women and men since high school, but admits he had to be extra careful about the guys he dated, especially during the NFL season because he didn't want people to find out about his secret. He also built good relationships in the locker room, but felt bad because he knew he wasn't being totally open with who he was.
Russell knows going forward that it might be even harder to find a job in the NFL, but at least he is being honest, and now can live his life without feeling like he needs to hide anything.
“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.”