Alan Gendreau just might be the guy who makes history in professional team sports.
The 23-year-old former Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders kicker, who graduated last year, is now a free agent who’s setting his eyes on the NFL -- and he’s openly gay.
In an exclusive interview with Outsports, which covers gay sports news, Gendreau gave a candid look into his life and experience as an openly gay college athlete. He said he had never been met with homophobic sentiments from his teammates.
“Being gay and playing football, there’s no contradictions,” Gendreau, who’s been out of the closet since age 15, told Outsport’s Cyd Zeigler.
Josh Davis, the Blue Raiders holder and team punter, spoke about playing with his gay teammate. “Everyone just saw him as a football player. He was just one of the guys. The fact that he proved himself on the field, there was a respect for him.”
The 5-foot, 10-inch kicker played with distinction from 2008 to 2011 with the Raiders, becoming the leading scorer in Sun Belt Conference history, and racking up 295 points in his college career.
Last year, like most college kickers, Gendreau was undrafted, but he has high hopes for the offseason.
“Right now, looking back when I’m 40, I can’t say I gave it my best shot,” he said. “I can’t say I really tried to make it into the NFL. Last year I did it half-assed. If I don’t give it everything I have now, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.”
Gendreau’s aspirations come at a time where there’s been increased discussion about homophobia in male team sports and if there will eventually be an active, openly gay athlete in any of the four major sports leagues.
Former Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo, a longtime outspoken ally for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, hinted earlier this month that as many as four current NFL players may come out in the near future.
The New York Jets and Carolina Panthers are the only teams that are most likely to draft a kicker this year. If Gendreau makes it, he doesn’t want his sexuality to be the only thing he’s known for.
“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.”
On Tuesday, Ayanbadejo took his support for gay marriage to South Florida, speaking about the impact of his work and how professional athletes are looked up to by so many.
“I think the star power, especially with athletes, allows us to hit a demographic. ... I think this allows us to have our voice reach a little bit deeper to people who wouldn't normally hear our message."
And that impact and potential influence is something Gendreau recognizes.
“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.”
Watch the Outsports exclusive interview with Gendreau below: