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Wade Davis discusses being gay and playing in the NFL

June 07, 2012|By Houston Mitchell

Former NFL player Wade Davis, who came out publicly to Outsports.com this week, said in an interview with CNN that he didn't tell anyone he was gay when he played in the league because he wanted to be known as a football player, not as a gay person.

"Me being a gay person wasn't what I wanted to be known for," he said.

Davis was a defensive back for the Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins and retired from the NFL seven years ago.

"I don't believe most NFL players have a problem with having a gay teammate. I do get the feeling they have to protect who they are," Davis said. "At the end of the day it's a job, so all of these players have to make sure they're in a certain type of light."

Former teammate Jevon Kearse said he wouldn't have had a problem playing alongside Davis if he had known.

"I know there have been a lot more than just Wade," Kearse said. "It's just becoming more acceptable, which is a good thing so they can come out and not feel secluded."

Davis, 34, now works for the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which serves lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in New York City.

"It’s the first job since football that I wake up excited for work," Davis said. "For these kids, the question isn’t whether they are shooting a basketball well, it’s whether they have a place to sleep tonight, whether they’ve eaten today."

However, Davis does say it would be difficult for an active player to come out, especially if that player isn't a star, and gives a glimpse of just how difficult a decision it was for him to come out this week.

"I'll be flat-out honest with you, it probably shouldn't be if he wants to keep his job," Davis told SBNation.com. "If he's a free agent who's fighting for his job, maybe he shouldn't. I don't want to tell someone to give up their lifelong dream of playing in the NFL."

But, after thinking it over a moment, Davis amends his comment.

"You know what? Yes, it should be. Screw it. I don't want to be in the business of telling anyone they can't live their life authentically."

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