About Esera Tuaolo
Esera Tuaolo played in the NFL for 10 consecutive seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons (1998 Super Bowl contender team) and the Carolina Panthers. He was the first Rookie in Packer history to start all 16 games and was a member of the 1991 all-rookie team. In college, he was the winner of the Morris Trophy given to the best defensive player in the Pac-10. He was a member of the all-Pac-10 team in 1988, 1989 and 1990.
In 2003, Esera publicly “came out” as gay. Tuaolo had always felt forced to hide his sexuality as a gay man in the hyper-masculine culture of professional football. The secret crippled him, leading him to drink excessively and even contemplate suicide. It also hindered his football performance; he felt that if he were too good a player he would be exposed as a homosexual. He led a double life that deeply depressed him, but which he now looks back on with a new perspective. During this difficult time, he persevered by following his mother’s example and maintaining a strong sense of faith.
After retiring from professional football Tuaolo became fed up with pretending to “be straight.” He publicly announced his sexuality on HBO Real Sports, an experience he describes as “taking off a costume I’ve been wearing all my life.” One of only three former NFL players to ever “come out,” he has received huge amounts of support from old teammates, the media, friends, and family.