Esera Tuaolo has had a tough couple of years. In 2010, he was arrested for domestic abuse after an altercation with his then-boyfriend. Despite neither the boyfriend nor the boyfriend's parents pressing any charges, big headlines were made out of the arrest and charges of assault (which were later dropped). As Tuaolo tells Ross Forman of Windy City Times, many in the LGBT community, including the organizations that once sought him to speak, quickly turned their backs on him:
Tuaolo said people and organizations blackballed him, and that numerous speaking engagements were cancelled because of the charge.
Tuaolo estimated he lost $60,000 or more in the first year after the charge, and he's still impacted when schools or organization contact him or his agent to book a speaking services. The domestic charge is still an obstacle.
"It's been a slow recovery, but hopefully it will get better," Tuaolo said. "As I said, I would spend every day of my life talking about homophobia and bullying if I could. Now I understand their reasons for canceling [appearances], but it was hard and I took large financial and reputation hit that is still impacting me and my family. I want to tell everyone reading this that [the charge] was dismissed and that I was cleared of everything."
The former NFL player told Forman he considered "taking the easy way out" over the last year. He told me that Junior Seau's suicide woke him up, and he realized he did not want to go that route.
The whole interview is fascinating. It reflects the struggles that so many former professional athletes face years after their retirement.