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NFL Veteran Ryan Russell is Proudly Bisexual

August 31, 2019DMT.NEWS

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NFL Veteran Ryan Russell Comes Out as Bisexual

In a brave piece penned for ESPN, former Dallas Cowboy and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Ryan Russell revealed his secret to the world — he is a proud bisexual man. Having had at least some degree of success in professional football over the past few years, Russell clearly thought it was time to take a stand for LGBTQ rights in the industry.

RELATED: Pro Soccer Player Andy Brennan Comes Out as Gay

The article written by Russell gestures toward a fiercely independent and willful man who is extremely conscious of his race, his romantic preferences, and his adversities in life. Spanning subjects ranging from a nagging injury to his personal shame, the depth of honesty in the NFL free agent's words is palpable on the page.

“My truth is that I'm a talented football player, a damn good writer, a loving son, an overbearing brother, a caring friend, a loyal lover, and a bisexual man,” he writes. “Today, I have two goals: returning to the NFL, and living my life openly. I want to live my dream of playing the game I've worked my whole life to play and being open about the person I've always been.”

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A post shared by Ryan K. Russell (@rkrelentless) on Aug 29, 2019 at 9:02am PDT

Pointing out that there are precisely zero openly LGBTQ players in the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, or MLB, Russell called for a sea-change in the sports industry. In his words, the battle will be long and hard-fought, but will eventually see an increase in representation and diversity in the sporting world.

While it seems quite obvious that many players are hiding their LGBTQ status in locker rooms across America, this train of thought was brought into full evidence recently by former offensive linemen for the Kansas City Chiefs, Ryan O'Callaghan. O'Callaghan came out as gay after leaving the Chiefs in 2011 and claimed that he was not alone in this fashion.

“There’s at least one on every team who is either gay or bisexual ... A lot of guys still see it as potentially having a negative impact on their career,” O’Callaghan told the Thomson Reuters foundation.

NFL: OCT 01 Giants at Buccaneers TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 01: Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Ryan Russell (95) rushes the quarterback during an NFL football game between the New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 01, 2017, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Despite homophobia and bigotry still rearing its ugly head in professional sports, honest and driven players such as Russell seem dead-set on changing the current paradigm. The as-yet-unsigned free agent took a stand in the closing remarks of his essay, calling upon the brass at the National Football League to do better.

“The NFL is a multibillion-dollar entertainment entity with the power to create working conditions that allow LGBTQ people to perform their jobs like everyone else,” he wrote. “NFL teams who worry about the 'distractions' that would come with additional media coverage have skilled PR professionals who understand that there are bigger issues on Sunday afternoon than a quarterback being asked, 'What's it like having a bisexual teammate?'”

When it's put like that, a new perspective emerges. Instead of focusing on the salacious or scandalous stories surrounding one's private and personal sexuality, the spotlight should be on the men taking to the gridiron — their skills, their endurance, their losses, and their victories.

NFL: OCT 29 Panthers at Buccaneers TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 29: Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Ryan Russell (95) during the second half of an NFL football game between the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 29, 2017, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. The Panthers defeated the Bucs 17-3. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Everything else, including who each player decides to date, is a secondary concern, but one that has, unfortunately, taken center stage in some situations. As sports entertainment becomes more than just a pithy expression, having taken on a life of its own, the private lives of top-level athletes may demand more attention than their actual abilities.

A sad statement on the fate of professional sports, and one which Russell rightly condemns in his call to action — a call for fans, as well as executives, to move above and beyond.

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Christina Majaski, Khareem Sudlow

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