Former NFL defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo (center) with Stonehill head football coach Robert Talley (left) and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Brendan Sullivan.
EASTON, Mass. (October 14, 2010) - Stonehill College welcomed former NFL defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo to campus on Wednesday night where he spoke before a packed room in the Martin Auditorium as part of the College's diversity series.
For nine years, Esera Tuaolo excelled in the NFL as a defensive lineman for five different teams, playing in Super Bowl XXXIII with the Atlanta Falcons. But as a gay man in the hyper-masculine culture of professional football, Tuaolo was forced to hide his sexuality. He led a double life that deeply depressed him, which he now looks back on with a new perspective. During his difficult time, he persevered by following his mother's example and maintaining his strong spiritual faith.
It was after retiring from professional football that Tuaolo became fed up with pretending to "be straight." He publicly announced his sexuality, which he describes as "taking off a costume I've been wearing all my life." Only one of three former NFL players to ever come out, he has received huge amounts of support: from old teammates, the media, friends and family alike.
On Wednesday night, before a packed Martin Auditorium, Tuaolo brought his incredible story to inspire others to achieve their best by speaking to their individual truths without fear or intimidation.
Following Tuaolo's presentation, students gathered for a silent candlelight procession to the Chapel of Mary in remembrance of those who have died and those who continue to experience torment and bullying.