Free agent defensive end Ryan Russell managed to make headlines on Thursday by announcing he identifies as bisexual.
Russell, who last appeared on an NFL roster during the 2018 preseason before being cut by the Buffalo Bills, came out in a lengthy piece that he wrote for ESPN.
“My truth is that I’m a talented football player, a damn good writer, a loving son, an overbearing brother, a caring friend, a loyal lover, and a bisexual man,” he wrote.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Russell shortly thereafter, and he would remain with the team for two seasons.
Without a doubt, 2017 was Russell’s best season, as it was the only one in which he saw significant playing time.
He notched a mere 16 tackles and two sacks while appearing in 14 games.
Russell says his 2017 campaign was hampered by a shoulder injury that eventually required surgery and led to him being unsigned in 2018.
“Nursing an injury during a contract year is an impossible situation. If you listen to your body and don’t play, that doesn’t reflect well on your resilience. Play through the injury, as I did for a good chunk of the season, and you risk making it worse,” he wrote.
“Playing with one arm, I finished the season with several starts and earned the respect of my team. Unfortunately, my impending surgery and unknown offseason recovery time didn’t give the organization enough confidence to sign me to a future deal at the end of the season.”
Russell’s ESPN article makes it clear that he wants back in the NFL
“Today, I have two goals: returning to the NFL, and living my life openly,” he wrote.
The Purdue University product also detailed a workout he had for an NFL team in early August.
“My performance in the interviews and workouts was first-rate. Coaches saw that I still have the kind of speed and agility to pressure quarterbacks that prompted the Dallas Cowboys to choose me in the fifth round of the 2015 draft and enjoy two successful seasons in Tampa Bay,” Russell wrote, arguably inflating his success with the Buccaneers.
Yet, no offer materialized from the unnamed team.
Here we are, at the very tail end of the preseason, and Russell is not on a roster.
A return to the NFL this season would seem unlikely. And many Twitter users questioned the timing of Russell’s announcement.
I’m all for what anyone is. However, I’ve been watching this on ESPN. All this is, is an attempt to get on a team.
— ŠəəķŤl°uth? (@RaHorus2736) August 29, 2019
Ryan Russell came out to say he is Bisexual… umm ok we needed to know about your sexuality for what.. I’ll wait??.. either you can play football or you cant…dont try to shame a team into giving you a job
— Preeminent V ?? (@TMCV323) August 29, 2019
“omg this is so brave, Ryan Russell!”
there are people tweeting this knowing damn well his agent told him it’s time to Market that Sexuality for a Gillette endorsement & contract since Football wasn’t going to Cut the Check. ???? https://t.co/RyRGZy9AxW
— Aliquickk (@Aliquickk) August 29, 2019
Russell is certainly free to express himself in whatever way he sees fit. If he can perform on the field, his personal life is irrelevant.
But a narrative is building that Russell deserves a spot on an NFL roster.
And while pundits and activists scream for him to be signed every time a defensive lineman gets injured over the next few weeks, remember this: He was drafted in 2015 and has 20 total tackles to his name.
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