July 12, 2011
Michael Irvin's always been a passionate guy. He played with passion as he helped the Dallas Cowboys win three Super Bowls, and he speaks passionately now that he's paid to talk about the game.
His passion has most recently turned towards the gay community. The Playmaker now sees it as his mission in life to fight homophobia and bring people closer together.
To that end, he's on the current cover of Out magazine, a publication that deals with gay men's fashion, entertainment and lifestyle. Inside, Irvin opens up about his days as a young, homophobic player in the NFL, the cross-dressing homosexual brother who made him (eventually) change his attitudes, what he's doing about it now, and what life might be like for a gay player in today's NFL.
It's a fascinating read, and even having been a fan of Irvin's for years, it's a side of him about which I had no idea. Here are some snippets.
On what life might be like for a gay athlete in one of America's major sports today:
"I'm not gay, but I was afraid to even let anyone have the thought. I can only imagine the agony—being a prisoner in your own mind -- for someone who wants to come out. If I'm not gay and I am afraid to mention it, I can only imagine what an athlete must be going through if he is gay."
On how Irvin's Cowboys might have handled it if they had an openly gay teammate:
"I believe, if a teammate had said he was gay, we would have integrated him and kept moving because of the closeness. [...] We had a bunch of different characters on that team. Deion [Sanders] and Emmitt [Smith]. I believe that team would have handled it well."
On an athlete coming out in today's sports world:
"If anyone comes out in those top four major sports, I will absolutely support him," says Irvin. "That's why I do my radio show every day. When these issues come out, I want to have a voice to speak about them. I think growth comes when we share. Until we do that, we're going to be stuck in the Dark Ages about a lot of things. When a guy steps up and says, 'This is who I am,' I guarantee you I'll give him 100% support."
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