Wade Davis, 34, is a former NFL defensive back who played for the Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks. Obviously he was a good enough player to stay at the top level of football for several years, but he’s also probably not someone that casual fans -- who don’t root for one of the squads he played for -- are very familiar with.
Davis knows that. He seemingly sort of relishes it, actually. He wants to make his impact on the game off the field.
How will he do it? By acknowledging that, contrary to what some of the more delusional folks out there seem to want to believe, there are gay pro athletes. Not only do they exist, there are probably more of them than anyone actually realizes.
In a special interview with Amy K. Nelson of SB Nation, Davis opened up about how tough it is to be an openly gay person in the NFL, and why he never came out during his playing days:
“You just want to be one of the guys, and you don’t want to lose that sense of family,” Davis told Outsports. “Your biggest fear is that you’ll lose that camaraderie and family.”
That's why we haven’t had any openly gay football players come out during their playing days yet, and why none will come out at any point in the foreseeable future.
Davis offering moral support is great. Other football stars coming out and saying that they would have no problems with a gay teammate is great. But none of that changes the fact that we know people have secret feelings on this subject that they aren’t likely to share in an interview. None of that changes the fact that there will still be plenty of teammates out there who, for whatever reason, will behave differently around a gay player.
Despite some guys’ claims to the contrary, that’s just the world we live in.
Until a (currently active) gay football player is ready to stand up and be ostracized – not welcomed, completely and totally ostracized -- by the locker room for admitting that he’s gay, nothing will ever change. Saying that everything will be okay is putting an unrealistically positive spin on something that's going to be very, very tough. It wasn't easy for the first black athlete. It wasn't easy for the first female athlete. And it won't be easy for the first (currently active) openly gay football player.