Former NFL Player Reacts To Jason Collins Coming Out

Former NFL Player Reacts To Jason Collins Coming Out

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PHILADELPHIA -

On the basketball court at the Kingsessing Recreation Center in Philadelphia, news that an NBA player had come out didn't phase local players Monday.

"It ain't no big deal. Ten years ago, maybe, but now, it's no big deal," Andre Cruz of West Philadelphia said.

With a simple, short, three sentence paragraph, the 12-year NBA veteran Jason Collins wrote:

"I am a 34-year-old NBA center. I am a black man. And I'm gay. His story appears in a May issue of Sports Illustrated.

Former NFL player Esera Tuaolo, who came out after his career was over, admits it wasn't easy.

"I did not feel comfortable that I could share my story," the former player said in an interview.

"But we are definitely living in different times now."

University of Pennsylvania adjunct professor Chad Dion Lassiter said the announcement isn't surprising.

"The NBA can be a pioneer in this to ensure that there's no homophobic behavior in the locker room, that people embrace this whole sense of not 'other' but humanity," Lassiter said.

Collins says keeping silent about his sexuality had become more frustrating in recent years. Growing up just two blocks from Boston's Copley Square, he says the Boston Marathon bombing convinced him to go public.

"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation," he wrote.

The conversation has gained the basketball star a lot of respect.

Collins thanked everyone for their support on Twitter Monday night. "All the support I have received today is truly inspirational. I knew that I was choosing the road less traveled but I'm not walking it alone," the tweet read.

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