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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell protected his gay brother from bullies

Goodell has always embraced the gay community thanks in part to his brother.

Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

Time magazine's cover story this week is on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and it reveals something most people don't know -- he has an openly gay brother. The full article is available online for subscribers only, but Time does run this excerpt:

While growing up, Goodell was especially protective of his younger brother, Michael, who was the target of bullies. "Absolutely, he would beat the crap out of people," says Michael. "Roger was not Atticus Finch." When Michael Goodell, who came out after college, hears about gay kids committing suicide because of bullying, he reflects on how he could have been one of them.

"I was the type who would have been beat up a lot," says Michael. "It would have been humiliating. What would that have meant if I did survive it. Would I have done drugs? There are all sorts of things you can turn to because of self-hatred and loathing. But none of that was even a possibility, because I had this support around me. So, yeah, Roger is very much a hero figure for me." During an with an interview with the commissioner, I read Michael’s words to him. Roger Goodell teared up. "Ha," he says, sniffling, not able to say much else. "That’s the first time I heard that. I didn’t know it had much impact on him."

That's pretty cool and it suggests that any player who decided to come out openly as gay would have total support from the league office. Goodell's predecessor Paul Tagliabue is a big supporter of gay rights and has a gay son.

Hat tip to Jim Allen.