Free agent defensive end Ryan Russell is planning to return to the NFL and has decided to become more open about his life. In an interview with Outsports and an in an interview with ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, Russell announced that he is bisexual.
What We Know:
- Russell played for three seasons in the NFL after the Cowboys selected him in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. He spent his rookie season with Dallas before heading to the Buccaneers for another two. Russell saw the most playing time in 2017, when he played in 14 games and started seven for Tampa Bay. In 2018, he played in four preseason games with the Bills before undergoing surgery for a shoulder injury.
- Russell moved to Los Angeles after his shoulder surgery and is training to return to the NFL. He told ESPN that he worked out with a team in early August but didn’t address his sexuality during meetings. He promised himself that teams would know more about him moving forward.
“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,” he told ESPN.
- Russell received mounds of support from both players, fans and influential members of the LGBTQ community. He chronicled many of the responses on his IG story and shared details of his additional endeavors, which include a YouTube channel with his boyfriend Corey.
- In the YouTube video, Russell said for a long time he didn’t feel he needed to come out, as he was dating women as well as men and thought he might eventually spend his life with a woman. He finally decided, though, to open up about his identity, adding that he might be able to help others in the process. Russell says that key factors influencing his decision were a severe shoulder injury that ended his stint with the Buccaneers, the death from cancer of his best friend, Joseph Gilliam, and the depression that followed these events. “Truth became a part of my survival,” he said in the ESPN column.
- In a tweet of support and truth, CNN Contributor Keith Boykin tweeted ‘We all know Ryan Russell is not the only gay or bisexual athlete in the NFL. It’s 2019. Let’s create a world where LGBT athletes don’t have to hide who they are to get a job.’
We all know Ryan Russell is not the only gay or bisexual athlete in the NFL. It’s 2019. Let’s create a world where LGBT athletes don’t have to hide who they are to get a job.https://t.co/jcbpwU6FjA
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) August 29, 2019
- Russell expressed confidence that the NFL can accommodate out queer players and that their colleagues will care only about performance on the field. “There are a lot of problems in the world, and a lot of issues facing the NFL,” he said. “And I can say with confidence that LGBTQ players having the comfort to be themselves, date who they want, share parts of their life with friends and teammates will not rank among those issues.”
Congratulations to him for opening doors and standing in his light and truth.