In an as-told-to piece, Russell opened up for the first time publicly about his sexuality. He was selected by the Cowboys in the fifth round of the 2015 draft.
"Have I lied to teammates, coaches, trainers, front-office executives and fans about who I am? Not exactly," Russell said. "But withholding information is a form of deceit. And I want the next part of my career — and life — steeped in trust and honesty."
The 27-year-old is currently a free agent in the NFL. After spending his rookie season in Dallas, Russell was traded to Tampa Bay where he played two seasons. He suffered a shoulder injury in 2017 and missed the entire 2018 season after being released by the Buffalo Bills.
Russell said playing in the NFL again is just as important as living openly as a bisexual man. He points out that there still isn't a single openly gay player in the league — or any league for that matter.
"[T]he fact that there isn't a single openly LGBTQ player in the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball or the NHL brings me pause," Russell said. "I want to change that — for me, for other athletes who share these common goals, and for the generations of LGBTQ athletes who will come next."
"Let that sink into your brain: Even though openly LGBTQ people are thriving in every area of public life — politics, entertainment, the top corporations in America — they are so invisible in pro sports that a gossip blogger is doing a favor for a bisexual football player by not disclosing that he happens to date men," Russell said. "Nobody should need a favor to live honestly. In nobody's worlds should being careful mean not being yourself. The career you choose shouldn't dictate the parts of yourself that you embrace."
Now, he's is trying to get back into the game — literally.
"I'm not looking to be a symbol or media star. I just want to play ball for a team that knows me off the field and values me on it," Russell said. "I want to encourage teammates to be the same people they have always been. I want us to remain as close as family. I want to be able to dedicate my life to football without feeling like I can't dedicate my life to truth as well."
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