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Robbie Rogers Speaks On Coming Out

Rogers lead a closeted life for 25 years before feeling comfortable enough to come out to his friends and family.

Rogers flashes a winning smile.
Rogers flashes a winning smile.
Drew Hallowell

Robbie Rogers granted an interview with the New York Times. His first since coming out in a note posted online in February. It's immensely illuminating how hard he has struggled throughout his life with being gay.

Rogers clearly suffered from his dual life and I strongly believe that it showed in his play. Rogers was a rare talent in the U.S., a traditional winger who would take people on. The current incarnation of the national team doesn't have one. They are rare in MLS. Rogers rightly earned his Best XI nod in 2008 as part of the Crew's MLS Cup winning team. He was a devastating player who played on instinct and confidence.

That instinct and confidence started ebbing away. Rogers, always guarded with the media, became aloof and distant. His form dipped and the questions started appearing. Why wasn't he attacking with abandon anymore. Why didn't he take people on. Is he injured. It's true that Rogers suffered from a collection of small injuries, but it's obvious in hindsight that he was suffering mentally as the joy playing soccer ebbed away.

He signed with Leeds United in 2012, but only made four appearances. He then played six more times for Stevenage on loan before coming to a mutual termination of his contract in January. On the surface, he was a pro washout at 25.

It turns out there was far more to the story. He had kept being gay from everyone. His family, friends, and teammates didn't know. He never wrote it in his journals. He even tried not being gay. That amount of extreme isolation takes an immense toll and it's not a stretch to think it killed his pro career.

I'm glad that Rogers reached out. I've rarely met a person so weighed down as Robbie Rogers when I covered him from 2009-2011. He rarely flashed a smile; he seemed so disconnected from everything around him. It's true, some players hate talking to the press, but Rogers rarely even flashed a smile. It seemed he wanted to be anywhere but there; more likely he didn't want to put on the act for anyone, teammates, reporters, or friends anymore.

He now has his life back for the first time in a long time. He can be fully himself; no longer living the life he thought others wanted. That life may include soccer or he can strike out on his other interests. No matter what he decides, I'm sure he'll be successful. He's already faced one of the most difficult challenges in his life and showed tremendous courage.