Middle Tennessee State graduate Alan Gendreau could be the first openly gay player in NFL history if he is picked up in this year’s draft. The record-breaking kicker — who leads in all-time scoring in the Sun Belt conference — has been outwardly homosexual since his college career. Now, the 23-year-old Florida native is setting his sights on the big leagues since his exit from the sport in 2011.
“Everyone just saw him as a football player,” former MT teammate Josh Davis told OutSports, a media proponent for gay rights in sports. “He was just one of the guys. The fact that he proved himself on the field, there was a respect for him.”
Gendreau, who would be a free agent, faces issues of probability when it comes to being drafted as a kicker; the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers are his best chances at being picked up.
“His sexual orientation is not going to matter one bit,” said Leigh Steinberg, an acclaimed sports agent. “The only thing that matters is if he can put that ball between those goal posts. If he can do that, and if he can do it consistently, he’ll have a shot at the NFL.”
If manifested however, Gendreau will have the support from groups like Athlete Ally who rally for the acceptance of gay players. Wade Davis, a former NFL player who came out following his retirement, also believes Gendreau’s sexual orientation will not take precedent in the draft.
“The NFL is a business, and they’re going to make business decisions above all else,” he told UPI. “They want the best players who can help them win.”
For Gendreau however, it all boils down to taking the chance.
“Right now, looking back when I’m 40, I can’t say I gave it my best shot,” he said to Outsports. “I can’t say I really tried to make it into the NFL. Last year I did it half-assed. If I don’t give it everything I have now, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.”