Former Patriots OT Ryan O'Callaghan Comes Out as Gay

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2017

ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 22:  Offensive lineman Ryan O'Callaghan #68 of the New England Patriots blocks against defensive lineman Chris Kelsay #90 of the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 22, 2006 in Orchard Park, New York. The Patriots defeated the Bills 28-6.  (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Former New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Ryan O'Callaghan came out as gay during a conversation with Outsports.

The outlet's Cyd Zeigler noted the University of California product hid his sexual orientation during most of his time in the NFL and planned to kill himself after retiring from football before changing his mind and deciding to live the rest of his life as the "real Ryan O'Callaghan."

O'Callaghan said he grew up in a conservative neighborhood and determined "a football team is such a good place to hide," especially for a lineman who reached 6'7'' and 330 pounds.

He explained his biggest fear was the reaction of his family and close friends if he told them the truth, which is why he planned suicide after his NFL days ended. He clarified to Outsports: "It takes a lot more strength to be honest with yourself than it does to lie."

His outlook began to change after a series of conversations with Susan Wilson, a consultant with the Chiefs and NFL focused on drug abuse. She eventually became the first person O'Callaghan, who was also dealing with painkiller addiction, told he was gay and helped him chart a new path.

He told Outsports the discussions that followed weren't always easy, but his renewed honesty helped them understand the seriousness of the situation.

"Was it great at the beginning? No," he said. "Did everyone totally understand what it meant to be gay? No. But they knew what my alternative was. I told people close to me that I planned on killing myself. So at that point, no one cared. They were just happy that I was alive."

O'Callaghan, a fifth-round pick of the Patriots in 2006, saw his NFL career come to a close after the 2010 season. He appeared in 51 games across five years with the Pats and Chiefs.

He told Outsports the reason for telling his story publicly is in part to help those feeling the same emotions he did in his darkest days.

"As long as there are people killing themselves because they are gay, there is a reason for people like me to share my story and try to help," O'Callaghan said.