There has never been a publicly, openly gay, active player in the NFL or Division I college football. But former Middle Tennessee State kicker Alan Gendreau was out of the closet to his teammates while playing, and he recently disclosed his story to Cyd Zeigler of Outsports.com. Gendreau finished his college career in 2011, but he is trying to make it in the NFL, this season. He looked to have a good shot after his junior season, but then dropped off his senior season. He can’t be drafted (and probably wouldn’t have been anyway), but he hopes get an OTA invite and make a team. This Norwegian YouTube dude got a contract, so it’s not at all farfetched for a guy who was legitimately good in college.
So, he didn’t have any problems in college. That doesn’t ensure a comfortable environment for a gay NFLer, but it’s encouraging. OutSports also addressed the obvious kicker stereotypes that will come up.
Like a lesbian basketball player, a gay kicker plays to a stereotype. In a sport defined by hard hits and toughness, only on rare occasions — if there’s a broken play — does the kicker hit or get hit. Bill Gramática famously ended his 2001 season with a torn ACL after simply jumping to celebrate a field goal for the Arizona Cardinals.
If a borderline NFL kicking talent can sustain a comfortable career while being openly gay, then it’s unlikely others will have problems. And once one domino falls, however many other dominos are hiding will start to feel comfortable, themselves. Now, he’s just got to convince a team he’s good enough. We’ll be cheering him on.