Ex-football player Wade Davis describes being gay in the NFL

Wade Davis is a former NFL player who briefly played on three teams, including the Titans,  Seahawks and Redskins. In a video released Tuesday, Wade broke his silence about being gay and playing in the NFL. Wade spoke openly to SB Nation and Outsports for the first time about his sexuality and how it affected him during his playing days.

“I think subconsciously I think I understood, the way I was raised that being gay was wrong and there was no way that my family, at least in my mind would accept me, and also that my football family would accept me just because the perception that being gay meant you’re less masculine,” Wade said.


Wade remembers a time in Tennessee when a teammate saw something different in him. The teammate told Wade that he would make the team as long as he didn’t give anyone a reason to suspect him of being gay. Wade went out that evening and spent $1,500 at a strip club so that there was no inclination that anything was different about him.

When Wade first told a female co-worker that he was gay, he said the experience was a relief.

“[It was] liberating, but at the same time awful,” he said.

He describes it as taking a scab off his entire body “as aggressively, as physically and as horrible as he could, so he could bleed in the best kind of way and in the worst kind of way.”

The awkward and hard times for Wade in the NFL and growing up make him work harder for youth growing up in some of his same positions today.

“There is an opportunity here for me to really make and affect change not only within myself, but in the world,” Wade said.

Since his playing days, Wade has been living what he calls his second dream. He works at the Hetrick Martin Institute, which is an LGBTQ non-profit organization where gay, lesbian and nonconforming youth can find great services and a sense of family if they don’t have that.

“I get to do a job everyday that changes lives,” Wade said.

Wade also works to campaign for President Barack Obama and acknowledges the great strides the president has made for the LBGTQ community.

Even with those continued strides, Wade continues to have some hesitation about professionals in sports coming out.

“I’ll be flat-out honest with you…he probably shouldn’t if he wants to keep his job,” Wade said. “If he’s a free agent who’s fighting for his job, maybe he shouldn’t…I don’t want to tell someone to give up their lifelong dream of playing in the NFL.”

A moment later in the SB Nation interview, Wade decides to change his statement a bit.

“You know what?” Wade said. “Yes, it should be. Screw it. I don’t want to be in the business of telling anyone they can’t live their life authentically.”

Follow Marquise Francis on Twitter @mKfly