Former Packers player: 'The NFL is ready for a gay player'

CREATED Mar 26, 2013 - UPDATED: Mar 26, 2013

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  • Image by KOMU / Amanda Bromwich / Flickr

MILWAUKEE - With news that an NFL player could be coming out as gay this week, a former NFL player is speaking about the barriers in the sport.

Esera Tuaolo, who played for the Green Bay Packers, released his book Alone in the Trenches back in 2006. The book was his coming out, and talked about what it was like being in the league as a gay man.

"People ask, 'Why did you stay with football and put up with that?' When you're young and find something you're good at, you want to pursue it," he told People magazine in 2006.

Tuaolo spoke with Wisconsin's Afternoon News on Tuesday, March 26, about the issue of gay athletes in the NFL, seven years after he released his book.

"Times have changed," he said. "The NFL is ready for a gay player."

Tuaolo was drafted to the Packers in 1990, but cut two years later. He was then picked up by the Minnesota Vikings. He met his life partney Mitchell Wherley in Minnesota, and the two have since adopted children.

"I wish I had come out while I was playing," he said in the 2006 interview. "[But] it's hard to imagine any NFL player coming out while guys like [former Packer] Sterling Sharpe are saying his teammates would take out a gay man in practice."

Tuaolo now just wants to make the world is a safe place for his kids to be anyone they want to be.

"I hope I can create a world for my son and daughter, whether they are gay or not, where they can reach their full potential," he said. "My goal now is to educate people to make that possible."

He shared that outlook with Erik Bilstad and John Mercure on Wisconsin's Afternoon News.

"It's time for us to wake up and understand and we're all children of God."

AUDIO: Click to hear Tuaolo on Wis. Afternoon News