In an interview with Outsports.com on Tuesday, Wade Davis, a former cornerback for the Tennessee Titans, announced publicly that he is gay. Davis had privately told those close to him some months earlier, but the interview was the first time he openly spoke about the issues involved with being a homosexual NFL player.
Davis spent two preseasons with the Titans, and he also made brief training camp stops with the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins and in NFL Europe. And while Davis formed close relationships with high-profile teammates Jevon Kearse and Samari Rolle, he still never felt comfortable enough to tell his teammates he was gay.
In the Outsports.com piece, Davis says he kept his true identity hidden because he felt it would enhance his chances to make the team.
"You just want to be one of the guys, and you don’t want to lose that sense of family,” Davis told the website. “Your biggest fear is that you’ll lose that camaraderie and family."
Nonetheless, Kearse, Rolle and former Titans star Eddie George all seemed ready to accept Davis' sexual identity. Kearse said Davis was his "dog," Rolle invited the cornerback to his wedding and George said that Davis' homosexuality would not "have been a problem at all."
Even with the backing of some teammates, gay athletes still must fear that seclusion will certainly follow if they come out while still playing. To date, no players have announced themselves as homosexuals during their careers, a statistic that shows gay players are not fully comfortable with the idea.
Davis joins a list of professional athletes who have come out after leaving their respective sports. Former NBA center John Amaechi, NFL defensive tackle Esera Tuaolo and MLB outfielder Billy Bean made public announcements about their homosexuality after retiring.
Davis' football career ended with a dislocated kneecap in 2002. Surprisingly, Davis expressed relief, telling Outsports that "when I knew football was over, my life would begin."
The cornerback began working closely with the gay community. He served as a mentor in the New York Gay Football League and now works for the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York, which labels itself as "a leading professional provider of social support and programming for at-risk lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) youth."
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