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Ex 49er Kwame Harris wishes he had come out during playing career

Former 49ers offensive tackle Kwame Harris said he wished he had had the strength to be the first gay player to come out during his playing career, but at the time he didn't see being gay and playing in the NFL as "compatible."

"Now when I look back in hindsight, if I could have done it differently I'd like to think that I would find the strength or find the fortitude or the grace to kind of make the hard decisions," Harris told CNN Friday morning.

Harris, 31, was the 49ers' first-round draft pick in 2003, and he played for the team through 2007. The Raiders signed him in 2008 and he has been out of football since. His sexual orientation was revealed last month when he was charged with assaulting an ex boyfriend.

Harris was interviewed by ex-Stanford teammate Coy Wire at the school's stadium. Harris told Wire that he loved playing football but that the "cost was great" because he felt the sport didn't allow him to speak freely about his true identity. Wire, meanwhile, said that he and his Stanford teammates might have assumed Harris was gay "but we didn't really care."

The topic of gay players in the NFL exploded at the Super Bowl last month when 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver said they wouldn't be welcome in the 49ers locker room. He has since apologized for the remarks and has pursued becoming a volunteer with The Trevor Project, which provides crisis and suicide intervention for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youths

Meanwhile, CBS Sports reported this week that a gay player currently in the NFL is contemplating coming out. No player in any of the nation's four major sports has revealed he is gay during his career.

Asked last month about playing alongside Harris on the 49ers, longsnapper Brian Jennings had the same reaction as Wire.

"I was friends with Kwame when he was here," Jennings said. "I think he did everything he could to play well. I enjoyed hanging out with him. He cared about his teammates, he cared about the game. It was hard for him to fullfill his first-round status. But it wasn't from lack of trying. And it wasn't for lack of caring about the game or caring about his teammates."

by Anonymousreply 1004/01/2013

Interesting read, thanks for sharing.

by Anonymousreply 103/29/2013


by Anonymousreply 203/29/2013

Saw the interview. Kwame, firstly, is so articulate, and well spoken, he makes so many of those straight, lug head jocks , look like the idiots , with muscles, they are. Very hot guy - he would have been an excellent first 'official' out NFL player. But it's coming. Just hope whoever it is , they are as good a 'poster man' as Kwame would have been .

by Anonymousreply 303/30/2013

Is he in a great deal of legal trouble over the assault?

by Anonymousreply 403/30/2013

Of course this thread has only 4 responses.

by Anonymousreply 503/30/2013

There might be more responses if the link worked.

by Anonymousreply 603/31/2013

The link worked when I posted it. The entire text is in the OP, though. There are over 60 comments. I'm afraid to read them.

by Anonymousreply 703/31/2013

There does seem to have been an incredible amount of passion in the very tumultuous relationship with his ex. i wonder if he had come out earlier, there'd have been less turmoil and violence?

by Anonymousreply 803/31/2013

More on this subject...

In an interview with CNN yesterday, former San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders offensive tackle Kwame Harris came out as a homosexual.

Harris had been arrested in January for beating an ex-boyfriend and said he underwent significant stress and pressure, keeping his sexuality a secret during his playing days.

“You want to escape the despair and turmoil and your mind goes to dark places,” Harris said of keeping his sexuality secret. “I’m happy today, and I’m glad they were just ideas and I didn’t act on any of them.

“The cost was great not speak candidly open about myself in complete manner,” Harris said. “If I could have done it differently, I would have hoped I found the strength [to come out].”

Harris played for the 49ers from 2003-2007.

Ironically, Chris Culliver - a cornerback on that same team this year - got into major trouble two months ago when he denied there were any gay players in his locker room and made disparaging remarks about homosexuals in general.

He later apologized and met with a support group for gay, lesbians and bisexuals.

Tags: News, Sports Comments 3

by Anonymousreply 904/01/2013

I don't know who he thinks he was fooling? If you listen to this interview from CNN, it seems abundantly clear to me that he's gay.

The interviewer, who is also a former NFL player seems very cool. I love how he is so supportive of Harris. The NFL needs more like him.

And I wish he would call himself Kwah-may, rather than Quayme. I don't know where they got that ridiculous pronunciation from.

by Anonymousreply 1004/01/2013
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