Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 4/24/13

Over this offseason, there has been much speculation about the possibility of an openly gay player in the NFL. At one point it was rumored that as many as four players were contemplating coming out. Former Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo not only openly campaigned in support of a potentially gay player, but at one point implied he was in contact with one or more in the NFL. None of that has come to fruition, but if former Middle Tennessee State kicker Alan Gendreau realizes his dream, he could be the first openly gay player in pro football. In a profile by The New York Times’ John Branch — the same writer who famously profiled the life and death of former NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard — Gendreau talks about his dream to play in the NFL. He says his goal isn’t necessarily to break barriers, just realize his own athletic potential. “I’m a kicker that happens to be gay,” says Gendreau. “It’s a part of who I am, and not everything I am. I just want to be known as a normal kicker.” Gendreau has actually told his story before, albeit anonymously. Back in his freshman year, the now-23-year-old Gendreau wrote about his experiences for SB Nation’s Outsports.com. However, he hid his identity in part due to worry about how it might affect his NFL prospects. After his senior season in 2011, though, Gendreau went undrafted and was unable to latch onto an NFL team. Although he made 28 of 34 field goal attempts in his sophomore and junior seasons, a 1-for-5 stretch at the beginning of his senior year likely hurt his chances. Gendreau gave up football at that point, but after some encouraging words from fellow coaches at football camp this past summer, he decided to give his NFL dream another try. Likewise, though Gendreau says his goal is for personal reasons, he doesn’t mind being something of a role model, too. “My whole thing in this is just to help anybody who is struggling with coming out,” Gendreau said. “I want people to know that I didn’t have a problem with it, and they shouldn’t, either. “… I’m not in the NFL. If that were to happen, I’d love to be that role model to anybody struggling. I know that’s a lot of pressure, but that’s the life of a kicker.” Check out a video with Gendreau courtesy of Outsports.com below.

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