Tuaolo emerges from NFL closet
By Andrew Marchand
New York Post, October 24, 2002
Esera Tuaolo, who played nine years in the NFL as a defensive
lineman, will reveal he is gay in an interview to be shown this Tuesday on
HBO's "Real Sports."
Tuaolo, who played for five NFL teams, said a major reason for his
early retirement in 1999 was the difficulty and frustration inherent in
keeping his sexual orientation secret. "They didn't know who Esera Tuaolo is," he says. "What they saw was
The 34-year-old Tuaolo said players routinely told gay jokes in the
locker room. "They made me go further and further into depression, further and
further into shame," he says.
In a transcript and tape obtained by The Post, Tuaolo discusses the
depth of his depression. He said it got to the point that it made him
"When I'm driving like over a 100 [mph], maybe I could just like turn
that wheel, just turn that wheel so I could just end it all," says
A native of Hawaii and a product of Oregon State, Tuaolo was drafted
by the Packers in 1991, when he was the 35th pick overall. He also played
for the Panthers, Vikings, Jaguars and Falcons, for whom he played in Super
Tuaolo also is a noted singer, having appeared on several recordings.
He has sung the national anthem at numerous sporting events.
Also appearing on the HBO show is ESPN's Sterling Sharpe, a teammate
of Tuaolo's in Green Bay. Sharpe said that if Tuaolo had declared his homosexuality as a player
that Tuaolo wouldn't have made it to the next game. Asked what would have happened had Tuaolo come out while he was still
active, Sharpe replied: "He would have been eaten alive and he would have
been hated for it."