Three-year NFL veteran Ryan Russell, who last played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2017, penned an as-told-to article to ESPN, in which he revealed that he is bisexual; amid his NFL comeback attempt.
“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 said in the story.
Elsewhere in the open letter, Russell spoke to his experience in the NFL and how he was always conflicted with being able to live his truth while pursuing his professional football career. He said, “The competition is so stiff to stay in the league, that any small mark can lead a front office to choose another guy for your job.”
However, keeping his sexuality a secret took a toll on Russell: “UNTIL RECENTLY, I didn’t love myself enough to live openly and honestly. I was ashamed of who I am. I prayed countless nights for God to take away this part of me. I was ashamed to love women because I knew I could also love men.”
But, Russell shared in the letter that he’s ready to make a change: “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.”
Russell added, “Those two objectives shouldn’t be in conflict. But judging from the fact that there isn’t a single openly LGBTQ player in the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball or the NHL, brings me pause. I want to change that — for me, for other athletes who share these common goals, and for the generations of LGBTQ athletes who will come next.”
Russell said that going forward, he wants prospective employers to know everything about him, including his sexuality, “I know now truth is survival.”
Russell said that he met with coaches and NFL executives in early August and that they expressed interest in signing him for the 2019 season. Though the signing didn’t happen, Russell said he’s still training hard, with the hopes that he’s picked up.