Interview with creators of Necessary Roughness about gay pro football player

I interviewed my friends Liz Kruger and Craig Shapiro, the creators and executive producers of the USA Network television series Necessary Roughness. It's a drama about a psychologist who works with pro football players. Tomorrow night is the first of a two-part story about a gay football player who wants to publicly come out. Craig and Liz did a lot of research to present a plausible scenario for how such an event might play out.

To date, no active pro basketball, football, baseball, or hockey player has ever said they're gay (a very few retired pro athletes have come out).

Necessary Roughness schedule and past episodes


    1. The other football.

      Fashanu is pretty much the textbook case for why sportsman don’t come out though, isn’t he? And like Gareth Thomas he was right at the end of his career at the time.

      Steven Davies might be a better example of a current sportsman.

    2. A number of WNBA players have come out of the closet.  It hasn’t attracted that much media attention as most WNBA viewers were asleep.

        1. Pretty easy because the out active player list for the big four american sports leagues is  (unfortunately) zero.

          I’m hoping for the first to be baseball.  Least likely, NHL.

  1. Ian Roberts was a professional rugby league player in Australia from 1986 to 1998. Playing at 250 pounds, he was noted for his aggression and was an ‘enforcer’ on the field – regularly getting into brawls.

    He came out in 1995 – the first rugby player in the world to do so. The media handling of the issue – especially the sport’s own TV program “The Footy Show” – might be an interesting comparison.

    Side note, Roberts later began a career in acting and appeared as a henchman in “Superman Returns”.

  2. Not a professional player, but I think the story of Brendan Burke is of note here. For those of you who don’t know he was a U of Miami hockey player and the son of Anaheim Ducks GM (and later Toronto Maple Leafs GM) and came out before his tragic death in a car accident in 2010. His father and family have honoured his legacy by working to make hockey more inclusive.

  3. There was a big surprise in Ireland when Donal Og Cusack, a well-known Cork hurler, came out. His team stood with him and it made no odds to his career. Notably, Gaelic athletes may get some sponsorship, but they don’t get a wage, so that may make a difference to the risks involved.

    He gave a great speech at the inaugural Foyle (Derry / Londonderry) Pride Festival last year.

  4. Not to take anything away from this series, but it might interest people to know that the HBO comedy “Arli$$” did an episode in 2002 titled “Playing It Safe” about a MLB baseball player who was considering “coming out”  Billy Bean himself, one of the first openly gay former MLB players, appears briefly as himself in the episode.

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