After former Missouri defensive lineman and Michael Sam broke the news that he’s gay, the hope is that other athletes would step forth in support. Former Nebraska kicker Erick Lueshen decided to do just that.
Lueshen, who was openly gay and welcomed by teammates when he was on the Cornhuskers football team from 2004-2005, discussed the atmosphere he plunged himself into in an interview with KNTK The Ticket in Lincoln.
“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,” Lueshen said on the sports radio program.
“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.
Even though Lueshen admits there were several coaches who made him feel unwelcome through their actions, he did confirm that head coach Bill Callahan and a majority of his teammates made sure he felt that he was a member of the team. More importantly, he didn’t receive any different treatment, which is the way it should be.
It’s true that Lueshen didn’t get much playing time due to an injury that cut his career short in 2005. Nonetheless, it’s still significant that an entire team knew he was openly gay, but yet word never reached the media or general public. In fact, Lueshen even brought his boyfriend at the time to the student-athlete formal. It shows how special the bond between teammates truly is.
It will be interesting to see if any more athletes, specifically well-known sports figures, come forth in order to ensure Sam doesn’t have to go through the process alone.