Ryan Russell revealed that he is a bisexual man in a new interview with ESPN. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end said that he's working on returning to the NFL and wants to do it as an openly out man.
Russell said that he never lied about who he was, but he avoided the subject during his first run in the NFL.
"Have I lied to teammates, coaches, trainers, front-office executives and fans about who I am?” Russell said. “Not exactly. But withholding information is a form of deceit. And I want the next part of my career – and life – steeped in trust and honesty. During the season you spend more time with your team than with your own family; truth and honesty are the cornerstones of a winning culture. 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.”
“Today, I have two goals: returning to the NFL, and living my life openly," he said. "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.”
Russell shared an anecdote from his seasons in the NFL, saying that a blogger uncovered that Russell was in a relationship with a man. He claims the blogger chose not to write about it as a favor to the player, thereby avoiding making him the first out LGBT player in the NFL.
"Even though openly LGBTQ people are thriving in every area of public life -- politics, entertainment, the top corporations in America -- they are so invisible in pro sports that a gossip blogger is doing a favor for a bisexual football player by not disclosing that he happens to date men," Russell said. "Nobody should need a favor to live honestly. In nobody's worlds should being careful mean not being yourself. The career you choose shouldn't dictate the parts of yourself that you embrace."
Russell closed the letter by letting everyone know that he's the exact same player he has always been.
"I want to encourage teammates to be the same people they have always been. I want us to remain as close as family. I want to be able to dedicate my life to football without feeling like I can't dedicate my life to truth as well," he said. "Whatever I was to you before this letter, I'm still that now. We just know each other a little better."