Former NFL star and and NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin tries to break a long-standing taboo in American professional football, saying he will support gay players who fear 'coming out' as homosexual if they want to disclose their sexual orientation.

The former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver and NFL Hall of Fame member wants to support NFL players or other professional athletes who may fear retribution for coming out. I will absolutely support him...I'll give him 100 percent support, Irvin said in the latest issue of the gay men's magazine Out.

The 45-year-old Irvin is featured on the cover of the latest issue of Out magazine. Irvin says in the article he wants to talk about his stance on homosexual issues because his brother, Vaughn, was gay. Vaughn died of stomach cancer in 2006.

Irvin is shown on the cover of Out magazine wearing shoulder pads, but no shirt, and jeans. Irvin says learning from his brother's experience helped him to better understand relationships. Irvin said African Americans should be in favor of marriage equality in the article.

I don't see how any African-American, with any inkling of history, can say that you don't have the right to live your life how you want to live your life, Irving said, according to Out magazine. No one should be telling you who you should love, no one should be telling you who you should be spending the rest of your life with. When we start talking about equality, and everybody being treated equally, I don't want to know an African-American who will say everybody doesn't deserve equality.

Irvin was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007. He played for 12 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, and was a key part of the team that won three Super Bowls in the 1990s. He was known as one of the team's triplets along with quarterback Troy Aikman and running back Emmitt Smith.

Irvin starred collegiately at the University of Miami.

In the NFL, he was a five-time Pro Bowl selection, and he's a member of the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor.

Irvin was known during his playing days for a raucous lifestyle, and in 1996 he was arrested on charges of cocaine possession, while celebrating his 30th birthday at a Dallas hotel. He pleaded no contest to the charges.

Irvin was later arrested on drug possession charges after his NFL career two more times, but reports suggest in recent years, Irvin has settled down. He's worked as a commentator the past several years on the NFL Network.