Lately, we’ve heard from almost all queer ex-NFL players who have been brave enough to come out of the locker room – not really much of a big deal since there are only three. Dave Kopay turned up over the holidays, followed by Roy Simmons who is making the publicity rounds promoting his new book. That only leaves ex-Atlanta Falcon Esera Tuaolo. Well he’s surfaced and, natch, has his very own book to publicize. Tuaolo talks about his own closeted Super Bowl experience.
One of Tuaolo’s toughest moments came right after the 1999 Super Bowl in which the Denver Broncos defeated his team, the Atlanta Falcons. The team bus returned to their hotel and all the players’ wives and families were out waiting for them. Tuaolo’s life-partner, Mitchell Wherley, was there, but they did not dare approach each other in public.
“It hurt,” said Tuaolo. “Seeing the smiles of the other families, how the players held their wives and being able to be free to be themselves. Here we were in the closet, running in the shadows. Coming off that bus, and seeing all the wives and families come up and hug the players, because that was what we needed. We had just lost a game we should have won. The Super Bowl – something that important, you can’t get that back.”
Very sad, yes. But now we’ll be playing close attention during the Super Bowl this weekend, looking to see if we can spot the one player with the perfectly coifed hair and immaculate dress who isn’t instantly bombarded by a wife or a girlfriend.
Gay in the NFL [Pride Source]