The sport of football is a rough, rugged, and masculine game. Violence and machismo flow through the veins of every gridiron warrior whenever he steps on the field. It’s war, down to the final whistle. Former NFL corner back Wade Davis, who isn’t well-known but spent some time with several NFL teams, knows what it’s like to take the field with that type of hardened attitude. He also knows what it’s like to hide the fact that he is gay in an NFL locker room.
Davis spent time with the Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks, and Washington Redskins in the early 2000′s. Now that his playing days are over and he’s come out, Davis spoke about what it was like to be gay in the NFL, which is somewhat of a taboo subject:
“I think subconsciously, I understood that being gay — the way I was raised — was wrong, and there was no way that my family, at least in my mind, would accept me. And also that my football family would not accept me just because of the perception of being gay meant that you’re less masculine.”
He continued about the challenge of hiding his secret in an NFL locker room:
“You just want to be one of the guys, and you don’t want to lose that sense of family. Your biggest fear is that you’ll lose that camaraderie and family. I think about how close I was with Jevon and Samari. It’s not like they’d like me less, it’s that they have to protect their own brand.”
The Jevon and Samari Davis is referring to are former Titans teammates Jevon Kearse and Samari Rolle, both guys that Davis became close with. Kearse has since shown public support for the acceptance of gay players. However, no player has yet to come out and openly admit he is gay while he is still playing. There’s always that underlying fear of ridicule and/or not being accepted as a teammate and person.
Davis spoke about what that could mean to a player’s chances to make a squad:
“I’m gonna be flat-out honest with you, it probably shouldn’t be a reserve player if he wants to keep his job. If he’s the 53rd man on the roster, if he’s a free agent who’s fighting for a job, maybe he shouldn’t. I would hope that he would.”
Davis currently does campaign work for President Obama and works at an institute in New York that serves gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth. He hopes to help these people to one day be able to tread fairly on the taboo subject of being “different”, especially in sports and popular culture in America.