NFL star, Ryan Russell has opened up about becoming the first openly bisexual player, saying he felt ‘selfish’ coming out because he didn’t want to be a distraction to his team.
The 29-year old, who is currently a free agent, having had spells with the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Buffalo Bills, came out as bisexual in 2019.
Speaking with BBC Sport in an interview published this week, the 29-year-old said he was aware of his sexual orientation long before then, but decided to keep it hidden.
“I was finally in a place where I could provide for my mother, who had sacrificed so much for me,” said Russell.
Ryan Russell and his boyfriend, Corey O’Brien.
“It felt almost selfish to come out. I thought, ‘I don’t want to be a distraction to my team, I don’t want to jeopardize our success on the field, and also my personal success or financial status’.
“I could only think of things to lose. I could never think of things to gain.”
According to Russell, the turning point for him coming out came after he sustained a nasty shoulder injury in 2017 while playing for the Buccaneers.
“My whole identity was based around football — and I didn’t know if I’d play again,” he said. “I needed to find happiness — both in who I am and outside of what I do for work.
“That started me on my journey of self-love and self-acceptance.”
Russell now says he hopes he can be an inspiration to others after becoming the first openly gay or bisexual NFL player ever to feature in a regular-season game.
“It’s scary, daunting and paralyzing but I’ve got to keep moving forward,” he said. “I want to be the first, but never the last.”