Archive for the ‘NFL’ Tag

Bradshaw Offers Another Opinion

Terry Bradshaw is never short on opinions and has no trouble expressing his. He jumps in on the latest Steelers’ concern over running back Le’Veon Bell. You can see this in my book on the former quarterback and in the piece that follows

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2795449-i-would-have-signed-him-terry-bradshaw-says-only-bell-can-lead-steelers-to-sb

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The Shaq Brand

Tonight on HBO’s Real Sports, they focus on an athlete who has successfully created a major brand for himself in today’s culture. Athletes branding themselves was the topic of a book I wrote last year. One of the biggest sports idols to create a huge market for himself in popular culture is basketball player Shaquille O’Neal. He is on television offering basketball analysis on TNT and TBS. He has commercials for The General Insurance Company, Carnival Cruise Line and Icy Hot pain relief among others.

The man has a brand and he calls it making you happy and smile.

The big fella is following in the footsteps of another big-time  sports figure: Steelers Quarterback Great Terry Bradshaw. Bradshaw has a boat load of commercials, records, movies, and a regular perch analyzing football on Fox.

Bradshaw has the “Southerner good-old boy act” and he seeks to bring a smile and laugh to people. His brand is detailed in my book: Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality

 

Book’s Travels

Many of you already know that my latest book Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality came out this fall. I hired a publicist who made all the selections about the people and organizations that received review copies. When I saw the list I wasn’t sure about some of the locations and figured that most of them were his friends and connections in the newspaper and web football worlds.

I did get a kick that both MSNBC and Fox News Channel received the book. It even got into the hands of producers. However, since neither responded I suppose I can conclude that the book is something that the left and the right can agree upon.

My favorite response came from a writer for Jet Nation (covers the New York Jets football team). Phil said,  “The book was excellent. I can’t write a blog post about it because it isn’t Jets related. Super Bowls are kind of a sore subject for Jets fans.”

Bradshaw Book Review

Slowly getting the word out on my Terry Bradshaw book. this is a review by a Carolina Panther football team writer.

https://www.catscratchreader.com/2018/1/20/16912228/terry-bradshaw-from-super-bowl-champion-to-television-personality-a-csr-book-review

Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality; a CSR book review

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

For Panthers fans it’s a narrative that sounds all too familiar. He’s a big guy, a quarterback with obvious talent and a canon for an arm but critics aren’t buying in. Despite early success, turnovers have been a problem, injuries have been persistent and there’s the big question, is he smart enough to run a pro offense? This was the narrative surrounding future four time Super Bowl winner and MVP Terry Bradshaw not just for the few seasons of his career but even after he had won his first championship.

The narrative that Bradshaw was a country bumpkin without enough upstairs to manage his own play calls haunted the quarterback throughout his entire playing career and well afterwards. Despite testimonies from his coaching staff, teammates and friends that Bradshaw was highly intelligent and capable, the image had stuck and he would spend decades learning to live with it. After playing through injury, enduring a constant rotation at quarterback and struggling with the ethics of labor disputes, Bradshaw forged a career that eventually ended up in the Hall of Fame.

What no one realized back then was Bradshaw had the talent to go far beyond field. When his playing time was up Bradshaw found himself broadcasting games, hosting the pre-game show and eventually pulling down a permanent spot as a fixture of Sundays in the NFL but despite even this level of success Bradshaw’s real passion was in the most unlikely of places.

In the NFL of the 1970s, player contracts weren’t the multi-million dollar affairs they are now. In fact, it was common for the biggest stars to hold day jobs in the off season to pay the bills. Bradshaw was no exception. However, as the coaches and team would soon understand, his talents in other arenas threatened to end his playing career.

Since he was a young boy Bradshaw had been a fan of country music and gospel. It was his status as a pro football player that afforded him the opportunity to begin recording albums and spend the spring and summer of his playing years touring, performing gigs and laying down tracks in Nashville. What we know as the animated, goofy sports anchor spent much of his younger years as a popular radio presence with multiple top 50 offerings. Having a voice that was untrained but resonant with fans nationwide turned Bradshaw into a household name amongst Americans who never watched sports on TV. This says nothing of his roles on TV and movies including a friendship with Burt Reynolds that earned Terry the moniker ‘Hollywood’ in the locker room.

If you thought you knew everything there was worth knowing about Terry Bradshaw from his appearances on the field, there’s a strong possibility you missed out on some of the most interesting aspects of a unique icon in the industry. With an exceptionally well researched account of the life and times of Terry Bradshaw from his birth in Shreveport, Louisiana to four rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers and his shortened career due to injury. Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality belongs in the die hard sport’s fans library as an insightful revelation from the fan’s perspective.

You can purchase a copy of Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality here.

Steelers’ Fans and Terry Bradshaw

Podcast about my Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality Book: Part of the Steel City Underground Fan Group:

The discussion ranged from his playing days with the Pittsburgh Steelers to acting in Burt Reynolds movies, to his efforts today as a studio analyst with Fox and also in the television shows, Better Late Than Never and his latest movie, Father Figures.

http://www.steelcityunderground.com/podcast/2017/12/different-perspective-terry-bradshaw-author-historian-brett-abrams/

Terry Bradshaw: New Books Network Podcast

I discussed my book Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality with Bob D’Angleo, a sports reporter, on the New Book Network a few days ago. The discussion ranged from his playing days with the Pittsburgh Steelers to acting in Burt Reynolds movies, to his efforts today as a studio analyst with Fox and also in the television shows, Better Late Than Never and his latest movie, Father Figures.

Here is the link:

http://newbooksnetwork.com/brett-l-abrams-terry-bradshaw-from-super-bowl-champion-to-television-personality-rowman-and-littlefield-2017/

 

Locker Rooms and Sexual Harassment: 90s Style

The recent spate of announcements regarding sexual harassment has been amazing. We may not have been surprised by the harassment in Hollywood with its “casting couch” history.We aren’t surprised about these activities in sports, we can’t be surprised about this occurring in the halls of media organizations either. One incident from the long history of harassment appears in my book, Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality.

Fewer than three months into their jobs and co-anchors of CBS’ The NFL Today Pregame show, Terry Bradshaw and Greg Gumbel faced a major incident. Five New England Patriots players had told crude jokes and two fondled their genitals as Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson was covering their locker room after a Monday Night Football game in mid-September 1990. Olson issued a complaint.

Then Patriots owner Victor Kiam, of Gillette Razor fame made things worse. Kiam had a brief exchange with the reporter in the locker room the following week. He turned to a member of his entourage who was standing by his side and said sotto voce, “She’s a classic bitch. No wonder the players don’t like her.” Patriots’ fans piled on, showering her with obscenities and vile suggestions and statements as “If you want
to go into the men’s locker room, you get what you deserve.”

The case of Melissa Ludtke v. Bowie Kuhn, in 1978, had opened the doors, literally, for female reporters. The ruling determined that keeping the Sports Illustrated reporter out of the New York Yankees’ locker room during the 1977 World Series deprived her of the equal opportunity to pursue her profession. The NFL did not enact an equal access policy until 1985. Female sportswriters faced frequent discrimination, harassment, and fraternity-type pranks like wet towels being whipped against their behinds as they waded through the male athletes to reach the person they wanted to interview.

How would Bradshaw and Gumbel address the explosive situation? A Dayton sportswriter described Patriots fans as Puritans.
The abuse they directed toward Olson betrayed their male chauvinism, which basically said, “You are a woman; know your place.” In contrast, NBC’s pregame analyst Will McDonough rushed a quick response to the incident and claimed Olson “exaggerated her story.”

The CBS pregame show made Leslie Visser the lead in the discussions on the issue. Bradshaw described how he thought the public saw the issue, contending, “We can be as lenient and we can be as accepting to the opposite sex all we want to. But there comes an area where a man just absolutely closes his mind up and says no.” Mary Carillo, analyst for women’s and men’s tennis on CBS and ESPN, responded, “I think
that’s valid, a very valid point. Football always has been perceived as a male domain. Tennis isn’t like that—(John) McEnroe and (Ivan) Lendl
know I have the same skills, so it isn’t a stretch.”

Cathy Barreto who became the first female director for NFL games in the late 1980s, argued for female announcers in football. She thought
that for a female announcer to be accepted, “it’s going to have to be a recurring thing—not just once in a while. . . . Really no different than a
man—except people aren’t used to it.”

Bradshaw recalled growing up in Shreveport and witnessing the slow dissolution of racial segregation, another instance where people needed to get used to change. He listened to women analyze golf on television and accepted them because he learned from them. “I’m looking for knowledge. I don’t care what the sex is,” he said.

Nearly 30 years of past since this incident. The culture has only recently began fleshing out incidents of sexual harassment. Women broadcasters do not regularly in the broadcast booth for football. There is one woman appearing along the sidelines as a reporter but no more than one. ESPN did add one woman to their broadcast booth for major league baseball. As Carillo’s comment suggested, sports still seek an name athlete in the sport to appear in the broadcast booth as a color commentator. But broadcast booths can be expanded as ESPN has done to add a woman, and women can also be given more opportunities as play-by-play announcers. First, the sexism, both overt with the harassment, and covert, with hiring tendencies, needs to be contained then eliminated.

Writing A Book Part 1: Idea to Execution

The 21-month period ended this Saturday with the publication of my latest book, Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality. The long process appeared to be common with certain kinds of non-fiction publications.

Things started last January when an editor for a new series of books on sports idols who became popular culture icons asked me if I wanted to submit a book proposal. Having had my book, The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, D.C. Basketball published with Rowman and Littlefield, I knew something about the steps they sought in their book proposals. The difficult part was figuring out whom I would write about.

At first, the names that popped into my head were female tennis stars, specifically Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova. Each had played a role in furthering women’s roles on the tennis circuit, but they also were well known for their sexual orientation and became major figures in announcing. After thinking twice about them, I focused on Jim Brown. The former NFL star running back had a long career as a movie actor in Hollywood. He stood as a player in the Civil Rights Movement and had also voiced his opinion on matters in politics and culture over the years.

Then, the set of struggles over the Confederate flag in South Carolina and on the car used in the television show The Dukes of Hazzard happened. I read a wide-range of articles and felt there was a lot about the American South that I did not know. I realized that Terry Bradshaw had as rich a career in popular culture as in sports so I looked into him as a possibility for a book. I wrote a chapter on Bradshaw acting in 1970s Burt Reynolds movies, polished it up after my friend Brian gave it a great read, and shipped it off to the publisher along with the book proposal.

With university and some academic presses, after the editor completes a review, he/she submits these documents to people with expertise in the field for comments. Rowman and Littlefield have “reading boards” with librarians who offer their assessment, including whether they would have an interest in buying the book upon completion. The group gave the possible Bradshaw book the nod in January 2016. I received a contract giving me an October 2016 completion date. I doubted that I could complete the ten chapters in this time frame and sought a co-writer. This time I could not find one. Fortunately, Brian volunteered to read chapters, then raise questions and identify gaps.

As always I started with researching the subject. Bradshaw has written four books about his life and they proved very helpful. These books featured stories that I could use later and people and places that I knew had to be corroborated in other books, magazines and newspapers. Bradshaw’s books showed why he was a popular culture icon. His football career covered the 1970s and 80s. He served as a color commentator for games during the 1980s, and has been a studio analyst for professional football on two networks for 27 years. He has sang country western and gospel music, made movies and appeared on television shows in the 1970s and the 1990s and 2000s. Has has made commercials for nearly every type of product.

The other books ranged from fan and journalist books on football and the Pittsburgh Steelers to academic works on  of the 1970s.  Sports reporter Gary Pomerantz’s Their Life’s Work: The Brotherhood of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, Then and Now provided details about the team and the individual men. Several figures from the team wrote autobiographies, including the team’s President Dan Rooney through linebacker Andy Russell and announcer Myron Cope. All these works provided context and stories about the team and Bradshaw’s personality. A few scholars wrote about on road movies and Southern movies during the 1970s as well the depictions of Southerners in popular literature and television which offered perspectives on imagery of Southern white males, specifically the Good Old Boy.

This information got me off to a great start but I noticed great gaps about his childhood and days working in television. I used resources like the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame to identify people who wrote about or played with Bradshaw while he played high school and college football. Thankfully I discovered that people from the area proved very nice and willing to help. Doug Ireland, the head of the Hall of Fame, gave me several names, and they remarkably included Bradshaw’s old high school football coach. The coach provided details about Shreveport, the school system, the football program, and Terry’s personality. I also spoke with the journalists they had told me about and they had grown up with Terry so they could provide some childhood insight as well as high school and college football stories. Again, my great fortune to meet open and straight-shooting people.

I figured finding out about television broadcasting would be more difficult. There are small cadres of people working in the field and reputations are guarded closely. I tried to reach out to a few groups including the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.  I left messages and heard nothing back. Some articles in sports weeklies such as Sports Illustrated, featured a few articles about individuals who worked with Terry Bradshaw while he was with CBS Sports. Through various searches I found information for sports producer Terry O’Neil. I re-read the articles, read his autobiography and prepared a list of questions. He proved very helpful and insightful about the work of a color commentator and studio host and analyst for the NFL.

Other searches for producers and on-air talent did give me a few email addresses and telephone numbers. Most significantly I got to talk with Bradshaw’s broadcasting partner for a few years Verne Lundquist. He proved generous with his time, providing responses to my questions but also offering stories.

Unfortunately, other well-known people I called failed to return my messages. Getting in touch with players I figured would be a challenge. When I wrote the basketball book I received a list with contact information for some former players. This helped a lot and I conducted quite a few interviews, particularly with players who were active decades ago. A few active general managers, assistant coaches, scouts and former players spoke with me. But one former player gave me particular insight into why many would not discuss their past or other players. He said, “This is a fraternity. If you want to get a chance at a job in the league, you have to keep things tight.”

While that stunk, I revealed in the discovery of how much simpler researching history has become because of the digitization of many magazines and newspapers. Before starting specific searches, I consulted the yearly Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature to find any article published about Terry Bradshaw, the Steelers during the 1960s and 1970s, and items related to NFL quarterbacks. I then found many of these articles through the specific search engines for the magazines, including Sports Illustrated and Time, People and Variety. Most fortunately, people with specific interests such as in radio, or in movies, have digitized some special interest magazines, such as Broadcasting and Cash Box, which contained significant insight into Bradshaw’s television, movie and music careers.

The number of newspapers that have been digitized is amazing. Thankfully I live in Washington, DC and have the Library of Congress as a resource. They have access to the digitized versions of the largest newspapers, including Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe and the Atlanta Constitution. They also have services providing access to African-American newspapers and to small-town and rural newspapers as well. The city’s library has a service that provides access to historical newspapers across the United States. Most of these newspapers start from the 1990s. These are incredibly valuable resources, especially when you are interested in knowing what reactions reviewers, critics and the general public had to a person’s artistic and other activities.

I spent weeks printing or copying the details from thousands of articles covering Bradshaw’s playing career through his years on Fox’s NFL Pregame shows, which have changed names and contributors over the years. Among those with regular appearances on the show are comedians Jimmy Kimmel and Frank Caliendo. I organized these materials chronologically in individual chapters based upon Bradshaw’s activity: childhood, football player, singing, acting and commercials, studio analyst. I drafted a chapter every three weeks and received pretty quick reads from my friend.

While Brian read the chapter 9 and the conclusion I searched for photographs. I asked several of the people whom I interviewed if they had a photograph and thought that two would send a copy. I consulted with Louisiana State University in Shreveport and discovered that they had digital images of the Woodlawn High School newspaper. This included a few photographs of Terry Bradshaw. I called the Louisiana Technical University’s Archives and they had a large collection that did not yield what I hoped to put in the book. The Pittsburgh area newspapers and magazines had a couple of excellent photographs. However, I ended up only using a bird’s-eye view of the new stadium (Three Rivers Stadium in 1970). The problem with the others was that they had NFL depicted on them and the photo archivist stated that I might have to pay the league for the rights to use them in the book.

I am not sure about the legal issues but I heard something similar when I called the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Library and the Warner Brothers’ Library. Each had photographs of Bradshaw in the movies, specifically Hooper and The Cannonball Run. Unfortunately, each photograph cost more than I planned on spending and they mentioned that I was responsible for getting the rights clearances. The expectation was that I would contact the person in the image and get their consent to publish the photograph in the book. Way too much to do and quite unlikely to be granted if the person isn’t able to exert control over how the image is used.

After creating a list of the photographs and indicating their location in the book, I shipped these documents, copies of the photographs and the nine chapters to the publisher in late September 2016. The book editor read the manuscript and shipped me back copies within a month with questions to clarify points or offer suggestions about words or sentence structure. The largest comments focused on the size of the book. The contract called for 100,000 words and this I delivered. However, the book ran 400 pages which was too costly for production. The editor asked me to reduce the context surrounding everything from the economy of the South in the 1960s through the attempts of athletes to make music and star in movies. I could also make some small changes in word choices, spelling or other items. Another big decision involved splitting up the chapter on the Steelers’ four championships in two because of its size.

The first round of editing ended in December. The copy editors and printing staff at Rowman & Littlefield took over. We looked at a couple of possible cover images and I offered my opinion.They also asked me if I knew of people in the field of sports history and popular culture who would be interested in reading the first draft and providing an endorsement. I belong to a few groups of academics but am not very well connected so I wasn’t sure whom to ask. I contacted the people who initially got me involved, the series editors, and asked them if they had any recommendations. With me sending out a few requests and the editors looking, we arrived at finding three people who offered to read the draft. To my amazement, all submitted raves for the book. I felt great.

I received this first version of the book that the three readers got in early April 2017. This gave me the chance to see what the book will look like and determine if anything generated heartburn and needed changing. Every paragraph received a numerical label in brackets representing the chapter and when the paragraph appears, for example [2.3]. I understood the purpose of the numbers in brackets. Instead of using page numbers, the published wanted me to place these numbers in the book’s index. I had 2-3 weeks to place these numbers in the index next to the persons, places, and things that I thought worth tracking. After starting the indexing of chapter one, I realized that several people and organizations would need many subheadings to indicate the different activities and events they participated in. As I finished the second chapter I felt exhausted and another 250 pages remained. I decided in order to meet this deadline I needed to hire someone. A neighbor had some time so she took over the indexing of the two non-football focused chapters because she is not a big fan of the sport. She did a fantastic job and helped me with another chapter as well. I emailed the completed index to the publisher.

A month later, the book editor at Rowman & Littlefield emailed me with the final copy of the book’s cover. A week later I received a second  copy of the final draft of the book, including the index. They also sent an author’s questionnaire and a document I filled in with places that I thought would be potential locations for a book review. The press’s small publicity department generally sent out copies of the book to four of the outlets the review books for libraries. The publications are Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Choice and Booklist. I knew a few places from previous books that I’ve published, such as Journal of Sports History and Journal of Popular Culture. I researched for other outlets, particularly websites, and forwarded a list to the publisher.

In July, almost two months before the book came out, the first review emerged. The Publishers Weekly reviewer thought highly of the book and gave it a great review. My editor sent me notice of it. Now I became curious what else might come out. I noticed this blurb from Library Journal:

FIRST AND TEN: TOP FOOTBALL TITLES FOR SUMMER AND FALL

Abrams, Brett L. Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality. Rowman & Littlefield. (Sports Icons & Issues in Pop Culture). Sept. 2017. 304p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781442277632. $40. SPORTS

Arians, Bruce with Lars Anderson. The Quarterback Whisperer: How To Build an Elite NFL Quarterback. Hachette. Jul. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9780316432269. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316432252. SPORTS

**Bell, Upton & Ron Borges. Present at the Creation: My Life in the NFL and the Rise of America’s Game. Univ. of Nebraska. Nov. 2017. 400p. illus. ISBN 9781496200396. $24.95. SPORTS

Carlson, Chuck. Ice Bowl ’67: The Packers, the Cowboys, and the Game That Changed the NFL. Sports Pub. Oct. 2017. 224p. illus. ISBN 9781683580973. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781683581017. SPORTS

George, Thomas. Blitzed: Why NFL Teams Gamble on Starting Rookie Quarterbacks. Sports Pub. Sept. 2017. 208p. notes. ISBN 9781683581079. $24.99. SPORTS

Myers, Gary. My First Coach: Inspiring Stories of NFL Quarterbacks and Their Dads. Grand Central. Aug. 2017. 288p. index. ISBN 9781455598465. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781455598472. SPORTS

**Oriard, Michael. The Art of Football: The Early Game in the Golden Age of Illustration. Univ. of Nebraska. Aug. 2017. 280p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780803290693. $39.95. SPORTS

Savage, Phil with Ray Glier. 4th and Goal Every Day: Alabama’s Relentless Pursuit of Perfection. St. Martin’s. Aug. 2017. 336p. index. ISBN 9781250130808. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250130815. SPORTS

Stewart, Wayne. Remembering the Stars of the NFL Glory Years: An Inside Look at the Golden Age of Football. Rowman & Littlefield. Jul. 2017. 238p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781442274235. $38; ebk. ISBN 9781442274242. SPORTS

**Zimmerman, Paul. Dr. Z: The Lost Memoirs of an Irreverent Football Writer. Triumph. Sept. 2017. 304p. ed. by Peter King. ISBN 9781629374642. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781633198487. SPORTS

The R&L publicist said that indicated a full review of the book would be coming in the near future. It did and the person called it a unique take on Bradshaw’s life and career. The R&L editor thought the reviews were outstanding.

Anybody who knows me immediately realizes that I start combing through the Internet to see what else would appear. The book did not get reviewed in the other two locations. The hard work of marketing and publicity remained ahead to be discussed in the second part of this chronicle.

Will Bradshaw Read The Book?

I sent a personal letter, contacted an agent and a publicist and got a “I decline” to help from Mr. Bradshaw. I understand because he has written five books and has an author that he works with.

Hopefully, he’ll be inclined to read it.

Gays, NFL, Dogs Prevent Suicide

This is a really nice article containing a few of my favorite things: football, gays and dogs

Former NFL lineman Ryan O’Callaghan comes out in moving profile

Ryan O'Callaghan

Ryan O’Callaghan played for both the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. Jeff Taylor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former NFL lineman Ryan O’Callaghan, who played for the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, has come out of the closet in a moving interview for Outsports.

O’Callaghan, who spent five years in the NFL, never expected to have a post-football life. He was deeply closeted, unable to imagine living as an openly gay man. Instead of coming out or continuing to live with the pain of life in the closet, he planned to commit suicide after he retired from the game.

“I wrote a letter,” he said. “I was close.”

“If it wasn’t for some good friends, a couple of good dogs, I’d be gone,” he added. “I’m just glad there were people that were looking out for me, pushing me in the right direction to actually get help.”

He also struggled with drug addiction.

“I was abusing painkillers, no question,” he said. “It helped with the pain of the injuries, and with the pain of being gay. I just didn’t worry about being gay when I took the Vicodin. I just didn’t worry.”

Ryan O'CallaghanRyan

Ryan O’Callaghan with his dogs.

He credits a small group of people within the Chiefs organization with helping lead him to a better place, including the team’s general manager, Scott Pioli. He reassured O’Callaghan that he still had Pioli’s support, who shared that he had many gay people in his life and had previously counseled other gay NFL players.

Related: These NFL teams just became the first to sponsor a pride celebration

O’Callaghan said he hopes his coming out will show others that it is safe for them to do so as well, including some more recognizable names.

A handful of NFL players have come out after retirement, including running back Dave Kopay, cornerback Wade Davis, defensive tackle Esera Tuaolo, guard Roy Simmons, offensive tackle Kwame Harris, and running back Ray McDonald.

Defensive end Michael Sam was drafted into the NFL, by the St. Louis Rams, as an openly gay man, but was cut before the season began.

O’Callaghan recalled growing up in Redding, California, in an environment where gay people were not readily accepted.

“If you’re a gay kid and you hear someone you love say ‘fag,’ it makes you think that in their eyes you’re just a fag too,” he said. “That got to me a lot.”

But when he went home to come out to his family, he was pleasantly surprised.

“All the people I was most concerned about were fine. It was so much easier and better than I ever imagined,” he recalled.

He said he thinks the NFL is ready for an openly gay player.

“I think teams are ready. Guys just have to understand he’s gay. It doesn’t mean he wants to date you, he just wants to be your teammate,” he said. “It’s not a big deal, it’s really not.”

Related: NFL documentary profiles closeted gay player

He added that he hopes his story will lead to “someone else much higher profile coming out.”

He said he is in a much better place since coming out.

“I’m having a great time. I love life now, I absolutely love life now.”

He went to school at California and played for four years in the NFL. His career is captured here: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/O/OCalRy20.htm