NFL veteran Ryan Russell comes out as bisexual in moving essay

American football player Ryan Russell – who is currently a free agent, having previously played in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – has come out as bisexual.

In a moving piece in ESPN, the 27-year-old Texan opened up about no longer wanting to hide his sexuality.

“Out of love, admiration and respect, I want the next team to sign me valuing me for what I do and knowing who I truly am,” Russell said.

“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. 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 also revealed in the piece that a gossip blogger had previously worked out he was dating a man, and threatened to out him before promising to keep it a secret as a favour to Russell.

“Let that sink into your brain,” Russell said. “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 favour for a bisexual football player by not disclosing that he happens to date men.”

“Nobody should need a favour to live honestly,” he added.

He also addressed the fact that there are currently no openly gay or bisexual signed players in the NFL, but said that, in 2019, he should be able to unite his personal and professional selves.

“I don’t believe this is a big ask in 2019. I can tell you from experience that as long as a teammate contributes to success on the field and in the locker room, NFL players aren’t concerned about who their defensive linemen date.

“The NFL is a multibillion-dollar entertainment entity with the power to create working conditions that allow LGBTQ people to perform their jobs like everyone else. NFL teams who worry about the ‘distractions’ that would come with additional media coverage have skilled PR professionals who understand that there are bigger issues on Sunday afternoon than a quarterback being asked, ‘What’s it like having a bisexual teammate?’

“There are a lot of problems in the world, and a lot of issues facing the NFL. And I can say with confidence that LGBTQ players having the comfort to be themselves, date who they want, share parts of their life with friends and teammates will not rank among those issues.”

Russell telling the world he’s bisexual comes one day after a retired NFL player, Ryan O’Callaghan, said he thinks there is “at least one” gay or bisexual player on every NFL team, but that they do not come out for fear of losing sponsorships or even their jobs.