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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
an actor."

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 contemplate suicide.

"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 Tuaolo. 

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
Bowl XXXIII. 

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."

E-Mail: letters@nypost.com

http://www.nypost.com/sports/24095.htm

   
     
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