While sports are often heralded as a way for kids to learn the importance of accepting one another and learning to work hard as a team, the leagues tend to fall behind when it comes to inclusivity.
Just take a look at Former Patriots and Chiefs offensive lineman Ryan O’Callaghan, who publicly came out as gay in an Outsports story published on Tuesday. O’Callaghan was in the league for six years before his injury-plagued career ended. Sadly, he also shared that he planned on committing suicide.
The 6’7,” 330 pound former lineman says he grew up in a conservative neighborhood and figured that he’d be able to hide within the safety of a football team.
But his biggest fear was the reaction of his family and friends if they found out his truth, which is why he planned to commit suicide after his NFL career ended.
He explained to Outsports:
“It takes a lot more strength to be honest with yourself than it does to lie.”
But those dark thoughts ended when he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs and he began speaking to Susan Wilson, a consultant with the Chiefs and NFL who focused on drug abuse. In the interview he explained that after revealing his suicidal thoughts to Wilson, the conversations that followed weren’t easy.
“Was it great at the beginning? No,” he said. “Did everyone totally understand what it meant to be gay? No. But they knew what my alternative was. I told people close to me that I planned on killing myself. So at that point, no one cared. They were just happy that I was alive.”
O’Callaghan’s main goal is to now help people who have experienced the same ordeals.
“As long as there are people killing themselves because they are gay, there is a reason for people like me to share my story and try to help,” O’Callaghan said.