Kevin Grayson might become the NFL’s first openly gay player.
The former University of Richmond wide receiver, who hopes to catch on in the league as a free agent, came out as gay during an interview with WTVR in Virginia.
Kevin Grayson, who was previously married to a woman, had a shot at the NFL in college but tore a ligament in 2011. He spent 2012 playing professional football in Italy, leading his Parma Panthers to the Italian Football League championship and earning team MVP honors.
Grayson said he didn’t want his sexuality to be a distraction anymore, so he decided to clear the air.
“You don’t want to be the focus in that way,” Grayson said. “Not to say that it’s a negative, but when you have people just asking questions about your sexuality and how teammates are taking it, it takes away from the importance of the preseason. If you are an athlete, you want to be an athlete. You want to be known for what you’ve done on the basketball court, football field, tennis court, whatever. You don’t want to be that person who it’s always ‘the gay athlete.'”
Since coming out as gay, Kevin Grayson said he has received an outpouring of support.
He joins a growing number of professional athletes or aspiring pros to come out. For decades there had never been an openly gay professional athlete in major American sports (though a handful came out after their playing days were over), but that changed in April when Washington Wizards center Jason Collins announced that he is gay.
Alan Gendreau, a former kicker at Middle Tennessee State and NFL hopeful, also announced this month that he is gay.
Should Kevin Grayson make the NFL, he would join a league that seems increasingly bent toward acceptance. The league has a growing contingent of vocal LGBT supporters, and in April the league with gay rights groups in an effort to open dialogue and push the atmosphere more toward acceptance.