Former NFL lineman Ryan O’Callaghan announces he is gay

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For years, Ryan O’Callaghan worried what people would say. By the time he said it, the fact he was keeping his true problems a secret nearly led to his death.

The former Chiefs and Patriots offensive lineman can say it now — he’s gay. And he’s far from the first former NFL player to say that. But his description of the process that led to coming out to his former bosses speaks to the issues that keep many from revealing their truth.

Via Cyd Zeigler of Outsports, O’Callaghan recalled a football career which included pretending to be straight, avoiding talk of women, drinking lots of coffee after practice to avoid the shower. But also of painkiller abuse that stemmed from a string of injuries, and the fact O’Callaghan planned to kill himself when his NFL career was over.

“As long as there are people killing themselves because they are gay, there is a reason for people like me to share my story and try to help,” O’Callaghan said. “People need to understand that we are everywhere. We’re your sons, your daughters, your teammates, your neighbors. And honestly, even some of your husbands and wives. You just don’t know it yet.

“It’s not always easy being honest, but I can tell you it’s much easier and more enjoyable being yourself and not living a lie.”

While O’Callaghan can speak with relief now, his story was nearly a tragic one.

The former Cal tackle spent six seasons in the NFL, beginning as a fifth-round pick of the Patriots in 2006. He was plagued by shoulder and groin injuries, which he struggles with to this day. He joined the Chiefs in 2009, along with a number of former Patriots when Scott Pioli went to Kansas City as General Manager.

O’Callaghan said he doesn’t recall gay slurs in the locker room, but the internal pressure he felt caused him to plan his suicide. Along the way, there was an addiction to painkillers, which he used for several reasons. He finally got help with the drug issue from the Chiefs athletic training and counseling staff, and was then able to tackle the other issue which weighed on him.

It culminated with a visit to Pioli’s office, where the G.M. reacted with a shrug, and then a hug.

“People like me are supposed to react a certain way, I guess,” Pioli said. “I wasn’t minimizing what he was telling me, but I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. He built this up and built this up to the point where he said he was nearly suicidal. What Ryan didn’t know is how many gay people I’ve had in my life.”

That kind of acceptance caught O’Callaghan off guard, and it took him a few more years to go public with his sexual orientation. By then, at an awards ceremony in his hometown, it didn’t create much of a stir.

With a little luck, every player who might be struggling would find someone as welcoming as O’Callaghan found Pioli. And perhaps if they do, stories such as O’Callaghan’s might not have to veer so close to a horrible ending.

76 responses to “Former NFL lineman Ryan O’Callaghan announces he is gay

  1. It should be just the opposite. Haters should be the ones wanting to kill themselves. Ironically, they thrive on the hate.

  2. This is not the issue it was in the past. I have a gay child ( 30 years old ) who has had very
    few problems. Most people have evolved. Gay men and women serve in the military and are open in high schools . I am happy that Ryan has accepted himself. Now he can
    let other people accept him or learn to accept him. It is onlyvgoing to get better for him and other gay people.

  3. it’s 2017. why is this sort of thing a big deal? guess what gang, there are gay people in the world. follow up, a bunch of gay people enjoy–and participate–in football. get over yourselves, so that those who are gay do not feel the need to solve their problems through suicide. their life is worth more than your oogy feelings.

  4. It’s the dumbest thing that shouldn’t matter to anybody in this world, and I have no idea why it does or makes so many people uncomfortable or whatever they claim when they give their caveats for mistreating these people.

  5. It may surprise some people, but hatred toward the LGBT community is still alive in many parts of America. There’s still discrimination from the school yard to the political offices. Yes, the tolerance has grown tremendously, but the hate is still there. It’s good on people like Ryan to speak up about it and tell his story. Even if it helps just one person get through their struggles, it still helps.

  6. Good on ya Ryan! Thanks for protecting The Goat for us. Now go enjoy the next chapter in your life. You’ve earned it man. Enjoy every day.

  7. One of my college roommates is gay.

    Way, way in the closet and incredibly unhappy.

    Now that he’s out, he’s MUCH happier.

    He’s from a small town in Texas. He told me that when he left for college, his mother said: “Dear, your father and I love you, and we’re very proud of you. We will always love your, and we will always be proud of you.

    Unless, of course, you’re queer.”

    Can you imagine a parent saying that to a child?

    Is it so hard to understand how it could cause suicidal thoughts.

  8. @jimmyjohns01

    Sadly there are a large number of people that still have an issue with it…and when I say large I am talking like 50% of our country. I never used to think much about it but had a friend of mine from college come out and basically admit he was drinking himself to death because he thought his friends would all bail on him when he told them. Not sure how people still think its a “choice”

  9. Scott Pioli did a lot of things to justify the avalanche of criticism that followed his departure, but while this does outweigh that it adds a substantial positive note.

  10. People flock to the comment sections of these kinds of stories, tripping over themselves to let everyone know that they don’t think it’s a newsworthy story.

    It’s notable because not many have come out yet. Reporting it isn’t discrimination. O’Callaghan should be lauded for his annoucement, and likely will be by most.

  11. This should not be a big deal. I have never understood why some people feel it is their sworn duty to impose themselves on others and tell them how to live their lives.

  12. Why are we still writing about people’s sexuality? Who cares if they like men, women, or both.
    ————————————-
    Sadly lots of stupid people care very much.

  13. So, let me get this straight. He assumed horrible things about other people, even though he can’t recall hearing any slurs, and let that fester until he considered suicide, and when he finally told people, nobody thought less of him for it.

    News flash: most of us just don’t care. Oh sure, there are jerks out there, but they’ll be jerks whether they’re insulting you for being gay or insulting you for something else. It’s sad to think this guy almost killed himself for something that didn’t exist anywhere near the extent that he thought, and that we’re constantly told by folks who wish to profit from division.

  14. When I heard a former Chiefs player, I had to rack my brain to even recall this guy being a Chief at all. Must not have been All That.

  15. Where does the line between equality and extra attention start and end?

    It’s 2017, even most of the people who aren’t cool with gay folks are cool with gay folks. Even most Christians have come to understand that gay happens. The only holdovers are vocal and hateful folks on the internet.

  16. It’s 2017, even most of the people who aren’t cool with gay folks are cool with gay folks. Even most Christians have come to understand that gay happens. The only holdovers are vocal and hateful folks on the internet.

    I Disagree with that statement.

  17. The issue should be his opiate addiction, that affects too many players, not that’s he is gay. These NFL has a opiate problem, more so then general society.

  18. Jesus Christ, what these poor kids go through. Can’t imagine how tough trying to hide just being yourself

  19. Great, now he’s going to win multiple ESPY awards and probably be on the cover on Sports Illustrated.

  20. psousa1 says:
    Jun 20, 2017 3:34 PM

    Jesus Christ, what these poor kids go through. Can’t imagine how tough trying to hide just being yourself
    ____________________________________

    Agreed. I have one son (3 years old) and he’s the last hope for carrying on my family name, but he if turns out to be gay, so be it. I can’t imagine my desire for grand kids that have the same bloodline as me would ever outweigh my desire for him to live a happy life. Shame on anyone that thinks differently.

  21. The former Chiefs and Patriots offensive lineman…
    ———————————————
    Patriots 3 years, Chiefs 2 years.

    Shouldn’t it be “The former Patriots and Chiefs offensive lineman…”

  22. I’m glad he didn’t resort to suicide, but I’m left wondering where all the “internal pressure” he mentioned came from.

    If his teammates were harassing him about it, I could understand it. I think he’d be surprised about how many of his teammates would have just shrugged and said “So?”

  23. youafool says:
    Jun 20, 2017 2:57 PM
    @jimmyjohns01

    Sadly there are a large number of people that still have an issue with it…and when I say large I am talking like 50% of our country. I never used to think much about it but had a friend of mine from college come out and basically admit he was drinking himself to death because he thought his friends would all bail on him when he told them. Not sure how people still think its a “choice”

    ====================================

    You say that over 50% of the country has an issue with gay people and yet your one anecdotal story says the exact opposite. I would like to see the evidence of this assumed 50%. I don’t know the numbers but I would guess (I am guessing) that the majority of people don’t care. That is exactly what O’Callaghan found, too. Fancy that. I am thankful that he was able to accept himself and did not commit suicide, because he is the only one who needed to accept that he was gay.

  24. There are estimated to be about 50 current NFL players (about 1 or 2 on each team) who are gay but cannot come out publicly because of the lack of acceptance by certain elements of society. Full marks for Ryan O’Callaghan for having the courage to come out now, after retiring. Much respect.
    The media circus surrounding the Michael Sam episode made it much harder for others like Ryan to come out and be honest.

  25. This is news? No one says good job or thats dandy to people who are straight and do the right things. I dont have a problem with people who “choose” this lifestyle over what is naturally right but come on there are thousands of people each day who wish to commit suicide for one reason or another. Just saying not hating.

  26. For some people, it IS a choice, but let’s go using the left-wing narrative of “one size fits all”.
    This player probably knew he was gay, and hid it, because HE CHOOSE to!
    Don’t blame Goodell, the team, or the NFL, if anything blame the player and the NFLPA players of whom he was/is afraid of.
    Look what’s happening today, kids suddenly “think” that they’re gay or trans-gender, or whatever, just to get attention or to get paid b/c they KNOW that the PC media will eat it up and they’ll become famous.
    I don’t care if he’s gay, as long as he doesn’t hit on me or go flaming at one of my parties, then I’m fine with it.

  27. I’m glad he’s feeling better. It’s noteworthy that he took the steps that lead to a better place. There are so many unhappy people. It makes me nervous. I wish everyone could feel a bit better about themselves. Sadly , some people never find the path. Its’ not always easy, but I hope anyone unhappy can figure out what’s going on and take steps toward better days. I can be done.

    Go Pats!

  28. I have two nephews who are gay. I have no problem what so ever with it and what ever they want to do with another consenting adult makes no difference to me. One of them is the executor of our (wife and me) wills.
    That said, I do not want my 13 year old grandchildren to be bombarded with gay this and gay that, because that is not right, either. But this is what is happening.
    I believe there is way more emphasis on it than there needs to be when it comes to young kids. Kids are confused enough at that age and I believe that all this stuff they are hammered with is way overboard.
    Just as I don’t want my grandchildren bombarded with heterosexual information, I do not want them bombarded with gay or transgender information. I want to let them be children. They’ll learn about all this stuff in due time, just as all of us have done.
    Tolerance is something we try to instill in our grandchildren (who live with us, by the way). But we also teach them that there is prejudice everywhere, in every corner of the globe, including from gays. We also tell them that we are not the bad guys because we are heterosexual and believe sex is a topic better off kept private.
    So — I’m glad O’Callaghan has come to grips with his sexual preference. I wish him well.

  29. Good for you, Ryan & Scott. I appreciate your contributions to the Patriots organization. On the field, it’s just football.

  30. he has the right to live his life as he sees fit. However, I’ve had more than one social justice warrior call me a bigot just because I’m a Christian. The problem is leftists don’t want to live with others who have differing views from their own. If O’Callagahn is to be lauded, those on the other side of the spectrum must be as well

  31. tocabi wrote:
    Jun 20, 2017 2:47 PM
    Good on ya Ryan! Thanks for protecting The Goat for us. Now go enjoy the next chapter in your life. You’ve earned it man. Enjoy every day.

    What a GREAT post TOCABI. Wish I could like it more than once!

  32. “People like me are supposed to react a certain way, I guess,” Pioli said. “I wasn’t minimizing what he was telling me, but I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. He built this up and built this up to the point where he said he was nearly suicidal. What Ryan didn’t know is how many gay people I’ve had in my life.”

    Isn’t Bill Parcells his father in law?

  33. Along the way, there was an addiction to painkillers, which he used for several reasons. He finally got help with the drug issue from the Chiefs athletic training and counseling staff, and was then able to tackle the other issue which weighed on him.
    __________________

    It figures. The patriots get him hooked on drugs and another team helps him kick the addiction. Those patsies lie, cheat, steal and abuse the help. The patriot way.

  34. Why , in this day and age is it so hard for gay people? No one cares who you are attracted to,, really, it’s a non issue,, the only people who seem to have a hard time with it is the gay community. Good luck to ya in the future big fella.

  35. “…drinking lots of coffee after practice to avoid the shower”

    What does that mean?!

  36. Its a fact.
    NOW stop publicizing that whole GLHT or whatever the letters are.
    Millions of us are sick and tired of all these micro minorities
    and their continued broadcasting the facts

  37. Growing up in the 80’s, I was under the impression that being gay was the worst thing you could be. Nobody ever said it that way, but it was just my perception as a child, so I understand why gay people feel so afraid of people knowing about their sexual preference.

  38. I often wonder why people really care about what other people do in private. Personally, I don’t care one way or the other, its none of my buisness. I treat people the same, so it doesn’t create a problem for me.

  39. I think I am like 90% of people that have no problems with anyone being gay BUT I still feel VERY uneasy when I see two guys walking down the street holding hands or kissing in public.
    And anyone that disputes the percentages really is kidding themselves.

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