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Ex-Purdue football player Dorien Bryant on being gay and teammates who weren't exactly straight

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His NFL career ended prematurely due to injuries and his not wanting to hide. Bryant takes a shot at Jason Collins and speculates on when a gay player will come out.

Dorien Bryant, in his 2008 head shot with the Pittsburgh Steelers
Dorien Bryant, in his 2008 head shot with the Pittsburgh Steelers
Getty Images

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Dorien Bryant ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.49 at the 2008 NFL Draft Combine. He also set 23 Purdue or Big Ten records as a receiver for the Boilermakers. This entire time he hid the fact that he was gay, despite being outed by an ex-boyfriend in college. He now bartends and plays flag football in the Philadelphia gay flag football league.

Bryant is the subject of a profile in Philadelphia Magazine and it details a talented athlete who is also in love with himself (he is labeled Purdue's Terrell Owens) and ended his NFL dreams due to injuries and not wanting to hide. He was cut by the Steelers, then declined offers from the Titans and Cowboys.

"I had a great time doing it while it lasted, but I didn't think I could commingle the NFL life and the life I wanted to live," he said. ... "I loved football. I just loved myself a little more."


Bryant also says he was not quite alone at Purdue in desiring men:

Dorien can recall several teammates he's certain were not exactly straight. "I think there had to be a solid six or seven guys, who-I'm pretty sure-I mean, they may not have been gay, but they would definitely get into bed with a guy." And while he says neither of them currently play in the NFL, he knows at least two Heisman winners he strongly suspects are gay.

While in college, Bryant dated a male cheerleader, but after it ended, the player was outed to his friends. "I had to play dumb," Dorien says. "That could have ruined my life." After the breakup, for example, Bryant found himself the object of some gay-baiting by fans at Indiana State during a game.

He comes across in the story as less than a sympathetic character, very full of himself. He's especially harsh (and very unfair) in his judgment of Jason Collins:

He dismisses NBA veteran Jason Collins-the first "out" athlete in the four major sports-as a mediocre player out to profit from his pearly-whites cover of Sports Illustrated. "I don't think what he did was courageous-at all," he says over mahi-mahi tacos at El Vez. Like other critics, Dorien depicts Collins as an opportunist out for a contract. "I'm sure he'll do the LGBT circuit. ... But you don't play basketball anymore and you never really were anybody." (Collins has yet to be signed.)

Bryant also thinks it will be a half-dozen years before a gay NFL player came out and thinks it would have to be someone who is a Top 5 draft pick.

The entire article (which features a shirtless shot of Bryant ripped and buff) is worth a read. It shows that gay athletes -- like people in general -- can't be pigeonholed.