NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Alan Gendreau is just another ex-college football player trying to get onto a National Football League roster.
Except for one thing: He’s openly gay.
Gendreau kicked for Middle Tennessee State from 2008-2011, and he did so exceptionally well. The all-time leading scorer in Sun Belt Conference history, the Apopka, Fla., native amassed 295 points in his career at Murfreesboro.
The 23-year-old, who has been openly gay since he was 15 years old, wasn’t drafted last year and never caught on with an organization.
He’s not about to let his dream die, however. In fact, the former college star thinks he’s more prepared now than ever.
“Right now, looking back when I’m 40, I can’t say I gave it my best shot,” Gendreau told Outsports.com. “I can’t say I really tried to make it into the NFL. Last year I did it half-a–ed. If I don’t give it everything I have now, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.”
Though it’s rumored that numerous current NFL players will come out in the coming weeks — or at some point during the 2013 season — there aren’t any openly gay football players in the league currently.
If Gendreau does fulfill his dream, he doesn’t want to be known as the one gay player in the league. He simply wants to play football at the highest level.
“I’m a kicker that happens to be gay,” Gendreau told the New York Times. “It’s a part of who I am, and not everything I am. I just want to be known as a normal kicker.”
Gendreau does acknowledge, however, what an inspiration he can be to millions of people, and he’s ready and willing to embrace that. He is determined to help those who are afraid to be true to themselves and are scared to come out.
“My whole thing in this is just to help anybody who is struggling with coming out,” Gendreau told the New York Times. “I want people to know that I didn’t have a problem with it, and they shouldn’t either.”
Middle Tennessee State punter Josh Davis told Outsports.com that Gendreau was just another teammate — nothing more, nothing less — and that his sexual orientation was a non-issue in the locker room.
“Everyone just saw him as a football player,” Davis said. “He was just one of the guys. The fact that he proved himself on the field, there was a respect for him. He’s a good guy. He’s a lot of fun to be around. With all the coaches and players, he had a good relationship.”
So can he crack an NFL roster this year and make his dream come true, even after being away from the game since 2011?
Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe strongly believes that he can.
“It’s totally legit that he can get into the league,” Kluwe told Outsports.com. “Placekicking is all about doing this one specific skill set. And if you can do that, you can make it whether you’ve been out of football for one year or 10 years.”
Would there be a major reaction if Gendreau made a roster, or would it go largely unnoticed? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…