Sunday Q&A: Former Viking Esera Tuaolo

  • Updated: February 15, 2014 - 10:33 PM
hide

Former Minnesota Viking, Esera Tuaolo and his son Mitchell Tuaolo.

Photo: Bre McGee, DML -

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Esera Tuaolo had a nine-year NFL career as a defensive lineman, including five seasons with the Vikings from 1992 to ’96. In 2002, after his football career was over, he came out as gay and in 2006 he released his autobiography, “Alone in the Trenches: My Life As a Gay Man in the NFL.” In light of Missouri’s Michael Sam coming out last week in advance of the NFL draft, the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand caught up with Tuaolo for his thoughts on a number of subjects:

Q Let’s start here with a basic question: What was your reaction when you heard Michael Sam’s news?

A I really didn’t know the kid, but when I Googled him and found out about all his accomplishments, I was absolutely excited for this kid and super proud of his courage to come out and be true to himself. To start off his NFL career with this is absolutely amazing.

Q Did you give any consideration to coming out during your playing career?

A No. Michael, we’re living in different times. It was 20 years ago when I came into the league, and it was not an environment where I could come out. The homophobia and the words and language back then was absolutely ridiculous, and nobody would be held accountable for it. In the last 10 years, it hasn’t been like that. Any time now, when a player or coach lashes out, they are held accountable for their words. If there’s a time that a player should come out, this is the time.

Q Was it tough not to be able to tell anybody on the team — I imagine some of your teammates were close friends?

A Yes, definitely it was tough. You’re living with your secrets. … Not being able to have a relationship and share and introduce my partner to teammates, or take my partner to the holiday parties, any functions we had. Other stuff was hard, but the hardest part was watching things my straight friends on the team took for granted. He couldn’t sit with the wives. He had to sit somewhere different so nobody would find out. What’s so awesome for Michael Sam is that he’s going to be able to do that.

Q Historically speaking, how important is Michael Sam in your mind?

A This is what everyone has been waiting for. When [NBA player] Jason Collins came out, everyone was like, ‘It’s going to have to take a superstar collegiate athlete or superstar NFL player.’ And now we have that. … I don’t care if he gets drafted No. 1 or gets drafted last. He’s going to play in the NFL.

Q Things were great after he told his teammates at Missouri. Do you imagine there still will be roadblocks for him in the NFL as he goes forward?

A To tell the truth, I lived in hell for 35 years of my life. After I came out, nothing could hurt me. With Michael, you see some of the things he went through with his family, he’s been to hell and back. There’s nothing people can do now to me or him that can hurt us. He’ll have obstacles just like anyone, but he’ll face it head-on being himself.

  • related content

  • Esera Tuaolo said he would have not dared reveal his sexuality 20 years ago.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Toronto 0
Detroit 3 Top 1st Inning
Chicago WSox 0
Chicago Cubs - F. Doubront 1:15 PM
St. Louis - J. Masterson
Cincinnati - A. Simon 3:05 PM
Pittsburgh - V. Worley
Minnesota - K. Gibson 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Philadelphia - J. Williams 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
Miami - J. Cosart 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Boston - A. Webster 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cleveland - T. Bauer 6:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Detroit - K. Ryan 6:10 PM
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt
Texas - R. Ross Jr. 6:10 PM
Houston - S. Feldman
Colorado - T. Matzek 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada 7:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Gonzales
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:40 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 8:05 PM
San Francisco - J. Peavy
Oakland - J. Samardzija 8:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Washington - S. Strasburg 8:10 PM
Seattle - R. Elias
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 7 2nd Qtr 5:06
UAB 24
(7) UCLA 7 2nd Qtr 3:22
Virginia 3
Western Mich 14 2nd Qtr 8:58
Purdue 13
(5) Ohio State 3 2nd Qtr 4:20
Navy 7
Appalachian St 0 2nd Qtr 3:59
Michigan 21
Ga Southern 7 2nd Qtr 12:35
NC State 3
Boston College 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Colorado 3:00 PM
Seattle
New England 4:00 PM
Toronto FC
Columbus 6:30 PM
Montreal
FC Dallas 7:30 PM
Chicago
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
San Jose
Portland 9:30 PM
Vancouver FC
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Chicago 6:00 PM
Indiana
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who would you rather have on your team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close