The first openly gay male in a major American team sport may not be a veteran player who has been shielding his sexuality from the public view after all. It could be Gendreau, an easygoing but deep
Middle Tennessee State kicker Alan Gendreau, seen here celebrating his game-winning field goal to beat Maryland in 2009 with teammate Evon Lettsome, hopes to get a shot at playing in the NFL this season.The gay speculation has been roiling in recent weeks: First CBS Sports reported last month that an NFL player may come out before the 2013 season starts, then former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said that as many as four players might publicly proclaim their homosexuality in the near future.
The way things are going, it seems like it won't be long before someone reports that the entire AFC North was planning on coming out.
But the first openly gay male in a major American team sport may not be a veteran player who has been shielding his sexuality from the public view after all. The ground-breaking athlete who makes sports history may very well turn out to be an easygoing but deeply religious place kicker who has been openly gay to family and friends since he was 15 years old.
Outsports, the website that focuses on the nexus of gays and sports, reports in an extensive feature story posted on Tuesday that former Middle Tennessee State kicker Alan Gendreau, the Sun Belt Conference's leading scorer,hopes to get a shot at the NFL this year.
The Jets, Outsports reports, might be one of the teams willing to give Gendreau a tryout.
"All those kids playing sports in the South or anywhere else," Gendreau told Outsports, "kids who are afraid to be themselves, I just want to put my arm around them and help them. And if my story can do that, I figure I owe it to them to give it the best ending I can."
Outsports editor Cyd Zeigler, the author of the feature, says Gendreau could make history simply by being the first openly gay player to try out for an NFL team and the first openly gay player to make a roster.
Gendreau has been openly gay since he was in high school in central Florida, and he did not hide his sexual preference when he moved to Murfreesboro to attend Middle Tennessee State, even though that community is in the heart of the Bible Belt. Zeigler says they met three years ago, when he did a story on Gendreau for Outsports. Gendreau insisted on anonymity for that story, but Zeigler says NFL locker rooms have changed dramatically since then.
"Three years ago when Alan and I talked about doing a story, he was afraid it would hurt his ability to get to the NFL," Zeigler says. "I could not tell him that it would not. Today I can."
Zeigler writes that the Jets and the Carolina Panthers are the teams most likely to draft kickers this year. Gendreau, who has been away from football for a year, most likely won't be their first pick. But it is very possible that he could receive an invitation to a team's organized team activities.
"It will just take one team to give him a shot," Zeigler says. "He has a lot of talent."
Maame Yaa Burmester