As the worlds of the NFL and gay awareness grow ever closer, there's the possibility (expectation?) that an NFL player will come out of the closet. But here's a different turn on that possibility: an openly gay player coming into the NFL.
Alan Gendreau is a former kicker for Middle Tennessee State, where he played with high distinction from 2008 to 2011. He was the leading scorer in Sun Belt Conference history, with 295 points over his career. He's also openly gay, and has been since age 15. And in what would be a groundbreaking move, he's hoping to play in the NFL.
Gendreau wasn't drafted last year, but then very few kickers are. He didn't catch on with any NFL team last year, but hopes to make a team this year. And considering the fact that kickers are more disposable than paper napkins, he has half a chance.
“Right now, looking back when I’m 40, I can’t say I gave it my best shot,” Gendreau told Outsports. “I can’t say I really tried to make it into the NFL. Last year I did it half-assed. If I don’t give it everything I have now, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.”
Granted, Gendreau's sexual orientation does place the NFL, or specific teams, in an awkward position. No matter whether he's signed or not signed, offered a tryout or not, meaning will accrue. Teams will be accused of pandering, or discriminating, no matter what they do. Still, this is the way that barriers break down.
Gendreau, who does not yet have an agent, will try to score an invite to a team's OTA (organized team activity) over the next couple months. Barring that, he can try to work his way into an NFL training camp in July or August. The odds are long, but many observers believe Gendreau has both the talent and the open-mindedness to reach the NFL.
"It's totally legit that he can get into the league," Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, a proponent of gay rights, told Outsports. "Place-kicking is all about doing this one specific skill set. And if you can do that, you can make it whether you’ve been out of football for one year or 10 years."
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-