A cornerback who spent four preseasons with three NFL teams and also played in NFL Europe has come out as gay, joining a small but growing number of former athletes who are publicly acknowledging they are gays or lesbians.
Wade Davis, who spent the 2000 and 2002 preseasons with the Tennessee Titans, said he didn’t tell his teammates he was gay because he feared the impact it would have in the locker room. Jevon Kearse and Samari Rolle were among his closest friends on the Titans, and he would later be invited to Rolle’s wedding.
“You just want to be one of the guys, and you don’t want to lose that sense of family,” Davis said in an interview with Outsports.com. “Your biggest fear is that you’ll lose that camaraderie and family.”
But Kearse said he doesn’t think Davis being openly gay would have changed anything.
“I know there have been a lot more than just Wade,” Kearse told Outsports. “It’s just becoming more acceptable, which is a good thing so they can come out and not feel secluded.”
While there has yet to be an openly gay player in any of the four major American professional leagues, several players have come out after retiring, including former NBA forward John Amaechi, NFL lineman Esera Tuaolo and major leaguer Billy Beane. Rick Welts, president and chief operating officer of the Golden State Warriors, is openly gay.
Davis’ football career ended in 2003, after he got hurt in training camp. He is now a staff member at the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York, which serves, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.