Michael Irvin, the Fort Lauderdale-born NFL Hall-of-Famer, is on the cover of Out magazine this week, in a feature article on Irvin's advocacy to eradicate homophobia.
Irvin, a three-time Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys, has a notoriously troubled past, riddled by arrests for cocaine possession and allegations about sexual assault -- including one at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood.
But the article unveils other parts of Irvin's past -- like the time he was riding in his father's car down the streets of Fort Lauderdale and saw his brother, Vaughn, walking on the street wearing women's clothing.
He was 12 years old at the time he realized his other brother was gay and describes his acceptance of the situation amid Irvin's own superstar lifestyle.
No, he's not gay. He just doing what he can to reverse homophobia and help gay acceptance:
"I'm not gay, but I was afraid to even let anyone have the thought. I can only imagine the agony -- being a prisoner in your own mind -- for someone who wants to come out. If I'm not gay and I am afraid to mention it, I can only imagine what an athlete must be going through if he is gay."
And yet, Irvin says, 15 years ago his champion team would have accepted a gay teammate on one condition: that the player could play. Winning was all that mattered.
"I believe, if a teammate had said he was gay, we would have integrated him and kept moving because of the closeness." As a leader in the locker room, it would have been Irvin's job to keep the team together, first and foremost. And if that job called for him to support a gay teammate and share his connection, he thinks he could have. "We had a bunch of different characters on that team. Deoin [Sanders] and Emmitt [Smith]. I believe that team would have handled it well."
Irvin's definitely made his mistakes and isn't afraid to admit it, but he knows he's doing the right thing in his war against homophobia.
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