NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Former Jets safety Kerry Rhodes delivered the following message through TMZ on Thursday: “I am not gay.”

Rhodes told TMZ he wanted to “address the situation” after an image was posted on another gossip site that showed the vacationing NFL player with his arm around a man who he said was his former assistant. In another shot, Rhodes was carrying his ex-staffer.

“Photos have been circulating of my former assistant and I that have caused some rumors regarding my sexuality, and I wanted to address the situation,” Rhodes said, adding the pictures were taken “in a casual environment with my entire business team.”

The 30-year-old free agent was drafted by New York in 2005. The Jets traded him to Arizona prior to the 2010 season.

Acceptance on the field of play and in the locker room has been a hot topic around the league in recent months.

Mike Freeman of reported in March that “a current gay NFL player is strongly considering coming out publicly within the next few months.” Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has been in the forefront for the cause, saying last week “up to four players” could break the barrier on the same day.

Rhodes backed those players wrestling with the decision.

“I know a lot of people are recently talking about athletes struggling to come out to their fans right now, and I support them, as well as wish those individuals comfort,” Rhodes said.

Leave your thoughts in the comments…