Ryan O'Callaghan knew he needed help but he didn't want it. The former NFL offensive lineman was dealing with a secret that was eating him up inside. Things were so bad for him, he was doing what he could to end his own life.
But thanks to the help of the late Kansas Chiefs trainer David Price, O'Callaghan was able to get his life in order and come out as a gay man in 2017. It eventually led to him writing a book called My Life on the Line, which was released last week.
"I decided to write it after I was approached by a literary agent after I came out publicly. After I came out, I knew my story would help people and writing a book was an option," O'Callaghan said to PopCulture.com. "But I never really pursued it or anything until I was approached and that was about a year ago."
The book takes a look at O'Callaghan's life in the NFL while dealing with being closeted and being addicted to drugs. In the introduction, the former offensive lineman talks about abusing painkillers and attempting to use one of the guns he owned on himself due to his secret and from dealing with multiple injuries. And even though he was not looking for anyone to help him, Price was able to reach out and make sure O'Callaghan was getting the help he needed.
"I was really self-destructing," he said. "I was abusing painkillers because I was a junkie. If it wasn’t for David Price recognizing I was spiraling out of control, I wouldn’t be here. He didn’t know why I was abusing painkillers or acting the way I was. Quite honestly, I thought I was doing a good job of hiding it, but I wasn’t."
O'Callaghan's NFL career ended in 2012 but he didn't come out until 2017. So what did he do after the NFL?
"I had no long-term plans in life. I was purposely spending money and just getting rid of it any way I could so I couldn’t back out of my plans," O'Callaghan said. I didn’t have plans after the NFL. So after I did retire and decided to live, I had to figure a lot of things out, starting to figuring out how to love yourself and accept myself for who I am and mending relationships with family. For that first whole year, after I did come out to my family, I spent that time really looking into the mirror learning to love myself."
Once he did that, he was able to come out to the world and one of his most notable supporters was New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Even though the Pats drafted O'Callaghan in 2006, he did not expect someone like him to be as supportive as he was.
"I only had a couple of passing conversations in the hallway with Mr. Kraft the whole time I was in New England," O'Callaghan said. "We had a conversation when I got drafted. But besides that, he and I weren’t very close. But since coming out, I learned how much he’s done for the LGBTQ community…He’s even sponsored the National Gay Flag Football League Super Bowl and recently he made a generous donation to my charity. People like him coming out and being a vocal and visible supporter of the community really goes a long way."
And that's what O'Callaghan wants to do with My Life on the Line. He's not looking to make money off of it because all the proceeds will go to his charity, the Ryan O'Callaghan Foundation. What O'Callaghan wants to help as many people as he can who are going through tough times in their lives.
"I hope it helps anyone, football players or other closeted people," he said. "I think there’s a lot for straight people who don’t necessarily understand the challenge of being gay or trying to earn equal rights. Hopefully, they can get something of out it as well."
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