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Ex-NFL players Wade Davis, Esera Tuaolo talk growing up gay for Sports Illustrated

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The former players address themselves at various life stages, from being teens in the closet to out-and-proud adults.

Wade Davis, left, and Esera Tuaolo
Wade Davis, left, and Esera Tuaolo
MMQB

Sports Illustrated's new pro football website, MMQB, gets off to a bang with a terrific piece by Robert Klemko, interviewing former NFL players Wade Davis and Esera Tuaolo. The angle he took is to get the two openly gay men to "write letters to their past selves, sharing what they experienced at various life stages and what they wished they had known along the way." Their comments show their progression from being closeted, fearful teens -- and sometimes bullies -- to pro athletes struggling with their sexual orientation to their current confident selves.

Davis at 15
First of all, you're gay. You can't stop staring at that boy in 10th-grade gym class, and no amount of straight pornography is going to make you stop thinking about him. Dude, you're focusing on the guy in the videos! Just face it: You're gay. Now you're trying to figure out how to hide it, because you're not ready to come out-and that's OK. Problem is, you think being a class clown somehow makes you more masculine. It doesn't. You just look stupid.

Tuaolo at 25
You thought about killing yourself last year. You even forced open the window in your 15th-story apartment, ready to end the depression and the pain you've been treating with alcohol and painkillers. But you didn't do it. You thought about your mother, alone in Hawaii, and the life you can give her with an NFL career. Green Bay didn't work out, but there's a lot of football left to play. You'll land in Minnesota, Jacksonville, Atlanta and Carolina before it's all over. Guess what: Minnesota is the place to come out. What an amazing player you'll be, not having to wake up every day hoping nobody finds out. Wake up and free that six-year-old boy who shut himself in the closet.

Davis and Tuaolo are incredibly articulate and thoughtful, so go read the whole piece.

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