WATCH: NFL Releases PSA In Support of National Coming Out Day, Ready For First Openly Gay Player
LGBTQ+ people and our allies celebrated National Coming Out Day on October 11, and one of those allies was the National Football League (NFL). The professional league released a moving PSA in support of individuals who make the important decision to live authentically and openly, but the league went a step further by reassuring current and prospective gay players that the NFL is ready to support the first active player who is brave enough to come out.
“To all current players who are thinking of coming out. When you are ready, so are we. I support you. I got you. We got you. The highs, the lows. We’re teammates. We’re brothers. We support you. It takes all of us, and you deserve to be all of you," said current and former NFL players in the 30-second PSA.
Former Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers player, RK Russell, who identifies as bisexual appears in the PSA along with former NFL practice squad player an NFL inclusion consultant Wade Davis, who is openly gay.
Troy Vincent, Executive Vice President of the NFL, made it clear in an op-ed published along with the PSA that the league is ready to embrace its first openly gay player.
Coming out can be challenging. It's something that can be overwhelming and scary. It's intensely personal. As such, I want to make something abundantly clear ...
The National Football League condemns homophobia. We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind in our sport. There is no place for harassment, heteronormative language or ignorant terminology.
Our "It Takes All of Us" mindset includes supporting and celebrating openly LGBTQ+ players and personnel as well as allies across the league. It also applies to those who aren't ready to be open in their workplace.
We've long heard from players that an out teammate would be accepted in their locker room. As someone who speaks with players and football personnel daily, I wholeheartedly confirm that notion.
At the NFL, we have a shared commitment with clubs and players to continue to foster a safe space and not put any pressure on out athletes to lead.
From out NFL legends Dave Kopay, Jerry Smith and Ray McDonald who played in the 1960s and 1970s; to Roy Simmons, Jeff Rohrer, and Esera Tuaolo, who played in the 1980s and 1990s; to Kwame Harris, Michael Sam, Wade Davis II, Ryan O'Callaghan, and Ryan Russell who came out over the last 20 years -- we acknowledge and welcome members of the NFL family who have come out.
We must continue to focus on creating an accepting environment and work together, unrelentingly, to stamp out bullying and to eradicate discriminatory language. Most importantly, we need to walk the walk.
Anyone in the player community who may be considering coming out, know this: Just as I have done with family members and close friends, I am committed to serving as a conduit to help you through that journey -- either myself, in collaboration with my teammates at the league office, or through the many organizations with whom we partner on LGBTQ+ issues.
We have no way of knowing if an active NFL player would choose to come out, or what they might experience. What I do know is that I am committed to celebrate, support, and welcome them.
Watch NFL celebrates National Coming Out Day 2020 PSA here.