(June 8, 2012) Former NFL cornerback Wade Davis never played in a regular season game, but nonetheless hopes his announcement that he is gay might spur changes in the league.
“If I could do it all over again, I would come out…while I was playing because I now understand the impact that that would have had,” Davis told CNN.
Davis didn’t come out earlier because he was fearful that his teammates would not accept him, and said he didn’t want to be an outcast. But some of his former teammates said they believe he would’ve been accepted. Jevon Kearse, who was Davis’ teammate with the Tennessee Titans, told Outsports.com that Davis coming out of closet wouldn’t have changed anything.
“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.”
There has yet to be an openly gay player in any of the four major American professional sports, but individuals in other sports have made their orientation public knowledge.
Former Villanova basketball player Will Sheridan came out to his teammate and roommate, Mike Nardi, during their freshman year at the school. Nardi said it wasn’t a big deal.
“Your personal life is your personal life,” Nardi told ESPN last year. “It didn’t matter to us because its family and you don’t go putting your family’s secrets out in the streets. I mean, why would I tell anyone? It’s no one’s business except Will’s.”
British rugby star Gareth Thomas also came out during his playing career.
Davis said he hopes more people follow Sheridan and Thomas’ lead. While acknowledging that major pro athletes face some risk if they announce they are gay, Davis said they should feel empowered to do so.
“I don’t want be in the business of telling someone they can’t live their life authentically,” Davis told SBNation. “I don’t want to do that anymore.”
“I want anyone, whether you’re the first man, or the 25th man, or the last man or even someone
on the practice squad, to come out and say ‘you know what I’m gay, I’m still a great athlete and I’m an even better human being,’” he said.