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On the day the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in every state in America, the first NFL player to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality unleashed nearly 45 straight minutes of joy, pain, relief, regret, mourning and celebration.A couple of minutes into his long-distance rush down memory lane after exclaiming, Unbelievable, Im jacked David Kopay caught his breath and said, I wish Jerry was here so bad.MORE: Openly gay athletes | 49ers' pride on display |Athletes 'super happy' aboutrulingJerry Smith, his teammate in Washington for two years, one of the greatest tight ends ever (Its a disgrace that he hasnt even gotten a mention for the Hall of Fame, he said) and a gay man who never came out publicly.Smith died of AIDS in 1986 at age 43. Nine year earlier, in 1977, five years after his final NFL game, Kopay had made his own post-career revelation. His autobiography, The David Kopay Story: Jack Mewhort Jersey An Extraordinary Self-Revelation, has influenced gay and lesbian athletes at every level since then.Kopay, whose advocacy includes a role on the advisory board of Athlete Ally, spoke to Sporting News on Friday from his Los Angeles home, two days before his 73rd birthday and hours afterbans on same-sex marriage were ruled unconstitutional.His rollercoaster of emotions over the Supreme Court decision took him through both the thrill of a victory many thought would never come (Im feeling pretty up right now, floating in the clouds, actually) and the sense of lo s from having lived and played his nine-year career in secrecy and denial.I think about the National Football League office and the horrible things they did when (the book) came out, he recalled including, he said, refusing to hire him as a coach or in any other football job.That doesnt mean hes pe simistic about where the NFL is going with bringing openly gay players into the fold: The league is coming a long way with whats happening. Eventually there will be a player in the league. Still, he said I think the National Football league has so far to go, to be able to reach out to people, to their players, to really be supportive and really be open.The openly-gay player drafted last year who is currently trying to make it in Canada came to mind briefly but, Kopay said, as supportive as he is of him, This isnt about Michael Sam today.This is about every gay, transgendered kid whos had to go through what I did and what we all did and we still do. Its about everybody who is living through that. Im so glad today that our Constitution worked. Im proud to be an American.Things happen slowly. Baby steps. But people are still willing to take them, he said. We are out to win, and we have won now.The lo ses were close to his mind and hearttoo, though. As he talked, he was playing with his dog, Alex named for Alex Karras, my dear, Scott Tolzien Jersey dear friend. They were teammates for a year with the Lions in 1968 and, Kopay said, He couldnt care le s who I loved. He just reached out to a good friend he had respected when he played against me.He said his year in Detroit wasthe most depre sing year of my life, because of his continued struggled to cope with his sexuality, and because he found out after the fact that he had played with torn knee ligaments all season and the team had not told him.If not for Alex, I wouldn't be here. I was nearly suicidal, Kopay said Anthony Castonzo Jersey . He was never a friend in that way. He was just the best friend I could ever have.Karras died in 2012, one of many lo ses that came to Kopays mind even through his elation over the Supreme Court decision. His mother died recently, at 100; as what he described as traditional, Catholic, homophobic and racist, she had never quite reconciled to him coming out to her and his father.But, he said, choking up, in her final days, she pulled him close, used a phrase shed previously used mockingly, and said, Thank you for being my si sy boy.She finally got it at the end, he said, that people are able to love and be loved for what they are, not what theyre supposed to be.Kopay thought of his brief marriage to a woman,which was suggested to him by a therapist: The thing I regret the most was asking her to marry me, because I knew it was dishonest.And he thought of friends, like Jerry Smith and many other former teammates, cla smates and coacheswho did not live long enough to see the day that everyone couldmarry whomever they choose.One lo s he mourned factored into a near-watershed moment in Kopays NFL career, during his final season of 1972 in Green Bay. He had wanted to leave the team briefly to attend the funeral of a college friend he called my fraternity brother, my love, a great person who couldnt find himself, who had been killed in Vietnam. Head coach Dan Devine told him he couldnt go.I almost came out right then and there to him, he said.Later, after Kopay had gone to the funeral without permi sion and teammates confronted him, he angrily considered letting his secret out to them, too: I thought about saying, If youve got something you want to ask me, go ahead and ask me.That would have been an unbelievable happening at the time, he said, and I dont know what would have happened if it had. Even though he did not, the Packers did not bring him back the next season, and no other team signed him.As all the sometimes-wrenching memories flooded back, though, Kopay was still elated by the present and future.Lets have a moment of celebration today, he said and a moment of reflection, on lo s. But we can finally celebrate that life, liberty and the pursuit of happine s applies to Henry Anderson Jersey everyone.
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