Former Nebraska kicker says he was openly gay and loved by teammates
With the news that Missouri defensive end Michael Sam will, most likely, become the NFL’s first openly gay player this week, the sports world has been discussing the ramifications of an openly gay player in the NFL all week. With Sam coming out publicly, a former Nebraska kicker is now coming out to say he was openly gay with his teammates. Eric Lueshen, who was a kicker for Nebraska from 2004 to 2005, admits that he came out to a group of his teammates after they asked him if he was gay one day during lunch.
Two of my really good friends on the team, Sean Hill and Corey McKeon, asked me at lunch one day, “We were just wondering if you were gay.” I very honestly said, “Yes, is that a problem?” They were like, “Oh no, that’s really cool. We all thought that you were, and we just wanted to know.”
Lueshen added that after he came out to his teammates he went from being a very shy player, to a very loved teammate by many of his fellow players.
My experience went from being a very scared and somewhat shy gay person on the team to a very welcomed and loved teammate of many.
While some of his teammates were more than welcoming of him being openly gay, Lueshen admits some of his assistant coaches were not as welcoming.
Once everyone found out, several coaches made it very clear to me that I wasn’t welcome. I would say the majority of how they made it known that I was unwelcome was through non-verbal communication—body language, looks—but there was definitely some verbal things at times.
Lueshen never saw a lot of playing time as he was redshirted in 2004 and suffered a career ending injury in 2005. Lueshen’s story, just like Michael Sam’s, reminds us that most football players seem to be fine with an openly gay players. Sam’s fellow teammates were accepting of him at Missouri and Lueshen’s teammates appear to of accepted him at Nebraska.
Hopefully Sam and Lueshen’s stories will encourage more athletes who are struggling with similar problems to come out to their teammates.