Wade Davis, a former NFL practice squad player who spent time in the Washington Redskins organization, says that coming out as gay is something he couldn't do while trying to make a professional roster.
According to NFL.com, Davis, who came out to the blog OutSports.com, says that the perception among pro football players about homosexuality made it impossible to come out while he was playing.
"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."
Davis, now 34 and out of football, works for a Manhattan-based organization that works with young LGBTQ people. He spent time at training camp with the Redskins in 2003, but suffered a severe knee injury and didn't make the team.
He now spends his time counseling and providing support to young people who face the same challenges he did as a young person.
"Other than the work I do with youth every day, I don't think there's anything I've done that's more important in a long, long time," Davis told OutSports.
Davis' announcement comes less than a month after an informal survey taken among NFL rookies and retired players suggested that they'd have no problem supporting a gay teammate. There has never been an openly gay player in the National Football League.