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Former NFL Player Kwame Harris Talks About Coming Out Publicly

By Jerry Portwood

After a story earlier this week that teased that a current NFL player may be coming out publicly while an active player, former San Francisco 49er offensive tackle Kwame Harris—who was outed by the media after an alleged assault of an ex-boyfriend—spoke to CNN Newsroom to say that he's glad he's now able to be open about his sexuality.

Interviewed by his Stanford college buddy Coy Wire, a CNN correspondent and former NFL player himself, Harris explains the pain he experienced by being closeted in the NFL, saying, “You want to escape the despair and turmoil and your mind goes to dark places. I’m happy today, and I’m glad they were just ideas and I didn’t act on any of them.”

The former pro athlete played five season for the 49ers and one year with the Oakland Raiders, and Wire (who is dwarfed by the giant Harris when they stand next to each other in the interview) admits that Kwame Harris "is such an impressive guy, not only was he one of the best football players at Stanford, he was playing masterpieces on the piano, on the violin...None of us knew for certain he was gay, we could have assumed as much but we didn't really care." It's an awkward transition into the interview (is Wire saying Harris was too sensitive to be a typical football player?), but Harris does seem comfortable with Wire, especially when he asks if he ever considered coming out while he was an active player.

"The cost was great not [being] candidly open about myself in complete manner," Harris explains. "If I could have done it differently, I would have hoped I found the strength [to come out]."

He goes on to say: "I want people, whether gay athletes, athletes still in the closet, or youths who are not sure what their sexuality is to know those are common feelings. Don't feel alone in having them. I’m gay. I’m a former athlete. And I think I’m a pretty normal guy."

Watch the interview below:

 

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