Ryan O’Callaghan

Cindy Seip

Ryan O’Callaghan played right tackle in the NFL for six seasons, with the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. In college, he played for the University of California Golden Bears. Co-author Cyd Zeigler is the cofounder and coeditor of Outsports.com, the world’s most renowned publication dealing with LGBTQ issues in sports. In My Life on the Line: How the NFL Damn Near Killed Me, and Ended Up Saving My Life (Edge of Sports), Ryan O’Callaghan talks about his plan long term plan: play football and then, when his career was over, kill himself. Growing up in a politically conservative corner of California, the not-so-subtle messages he heard as a young man routinely equated being gay with disease and death. Letting people know was not an option. Better death with a secret than life as a gay man. Throughout his NFL career O’Callaghan’s secret sexuality and hidden drug use were in a collision course. Going from pot to NFL-sanctioned prescription painkillers quickly sent his life into a tailspin. Nearing the twilight of his career, Ryan faced the ultimate decision: end it all, or find out if his family and football friends could ever accept a gay man in their lives. NFL and NBC Sports analyst Peter King wrote that the publication of Life on the Line “[…] could be (and should be) a seminal moment for many athletes and other people in all walks of life. If an NFL player, cloistered in the manliness of his game, can come out of the closet and tell his story with such purpose, I hope that many others will follow his brave lead. This dramatic story […] might be a turning point for football.”