Speculation has continued to build for the past several months regarding whether or not a gay NFL player would be comfortable coming out about his sexuality while continuing to pursue a professional career in the NFL.
Previously, CBS Sports reported in March that an NFL player was considering coming out before the start of the 2013 season. Just a short while later, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo claimed up to four current NFL players were weighing whether or not they would come out at some point in the near future.
However, the first openly gay male in a major American team sport may actually be a former college kicker from Middle Tennessee State who, like many other college athletes, has dreams of taking his talents to the next level.
Alan Gendreau, the Sun Belt Conference’s leading scorer, has been openly gay to family and friends since he was 15 years old. Nonetheless, the deeply religious kicker is hoping an NFL team will give him a shot to prove himself at the next level.
“All those kids playing sports in the South or anywhere else, kids who are afraid to be themselves, I just want to put my arm around them and help them,” Gendreau told Outsports in an extensive interview published Tuesday. “And if my story can do that, I figure I owe it to them to give it the best ending I can.”
According to Outsports, a leading website for gay athletes and sports fans, the New York Jets may be one such NFL team willing to give Gendreau a tryout.
Cyd Zeigler, the Outsports editor who authored the feature story on Gendreau, believes the kicker could make history simply by being the first openly gay player to try out for an NFL team.
Gendreau, who was openly gay at his high school in central Florida while growing up, did not hide his sexual orientation when he moved to Tennessee to attend Middle Tennessee State – although the community is in the middle of the deeply conservative Bible Belt.
Zeigler says that although he initially met Gendreau three years ago during an article for Outsports, the kicker asked for anonymity, stating it could hurt his chances of getting to the next level. However, Zeigler says NFL locker rooms have changed drastically since.
"Three years ago when Alan and I talked about doing a story, he was afraid it would hurt his ability to get to the NFL," the Outsports editor said. "I could not tell him that it would not. Today I can."
"It will just take one team to give him a shot," Zeigler said. "He has a lot of talent."