• Ryan Russell has spoken out about the NFL's power to fight homophobia. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
“Once I finally felt ready to come out, I just felt a weight lifted."
Samuel Leighton-Dore

10 Sep 2019 - 1:02 PM  UPDATED 10 Sep 2019 - 1:02 PM

Veteran NFL player Ryan Russell, who came out as bisexual last month, has revealed how coming out has made him a stronger teammate.

The 27-year-old former Dallas Cowboys player is currently a free agent, hoping to be signed to a new team.

Speaking to CNN, Russell said that he hoped coming out publicly would help others in the NFL do the same, insisting that he's a better player because of the experience. 

“If you’re focused on hiding a part of yourself or…anything other than your sport, your opponent and your craft, then you won’t be as effective,” he said.

“You’ll be a step behind, you’ll be a step slower.”

He added: “Once I finally felt ready to come out, I just felt a weight lifted. I became a better brother. I became a better son. I believe I’ll be a better teammate.”

The former defence said that he hoped the NFL would take affirmative action in combating homophobia in sport, leading by example.

“I believe the NFL is in a great position to be the hero in this story,” he told CNN.

“I believe the NFL is ready to support an openly LGBTIQ+ athlete. I know they have the resources to control any time of media hailstorm or distraction.”

He continued: “You can’t support an openly LGBTIQ+ player if there are no openly LGBTIQ+ players. … Someone has to take that first step.”

Watch the full exchange below:

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