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Former Patriots & Chiefs OT Ryan O’Callaghan Comes Out As Gay, Explains How He Hid It in NFL (VIDEO)
Former New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lineman Ryan O’Callaghan had a secret while he was active in the NFL and decided to keep it to himself until today.
Callaghan, a 5th round pick by the Patriots in 2006, explained when he found out the moment he was a gay man, how he hid that information while playing in the league, and what ultimately stopped him from committing suicide.
“While the 6-foot-7, 330-pound offensive tackle didn’t fit any of the gay stereotypes, he decided shortly after coming out to himself in junior high school that he could never let anyone else in on his darkest secret.
“If you’re a gay kid and you hear someone you love say ‘fag,’ it makes you think that in their eyes you’re just a fag too,” O’Callaghan told Outsports on a recent visit to Los Angeles for his first-ever Pride celebration. “That got to me a lot.”
He went on to explain how he used Football as his ‘beard’, so no one could out him as a gay man.
“O’Callaghan decided early on that he would hide behind football. The sport would be his “beard,” and the jersey on his back would throw off the scent and keep his secret hidden for over a dozen years on a journey that saw him playing college ball at the University of California and in the NFL.
He spent his time in football preparing for his suicide, yet thanks to a small group of people within the Chiefs organization he ultimately found the will to live as the real Ryan O’Callaghan.
O’Callaghan learned very quickly that football was the best place in the world for a gay teenager to hide. The brute, physical nature of the sport went against every stereotype of gay men he knew. At his size, few people would suspect he was gay, and if he was a football player on top of that, he felt his secret would be buried.
“No one is going to assume the big football player is gay,” he said. “It’s why a football team is such a good place to hide.
So he dove into football and made a pact with himself: As long as he put on those pads, he was good to go. Once football was over, he’d take a gun to his head and end it all. That was the deal, and he would hold himself to it.”
Eventually, the combination of injuries and being gay turned him to pain killers.
“The injuries created so much down time, and that’s when my mind went into overdrive.”
“I was abusing painkillers, no question,” he said matter-of-factly. “It helped with the pain of the injuries, and with the pain of being gay. I just didn’t worry about being gay when I took the Vicodin. I just didn’t worry.”