Kwame Harris, a former offensive lineman in the NFL, officially came out as gay, months after he was outed for having an alleged confrontation with an ex-boyfriend.

"I love football. Football provided me with some experiences and some opportunities that I wouldn't trade for anything else," Harris told Coy Wire in an interview with CNN. "But at the same time, the cost was great in asking me to not speak candidly or be able to be open about myself in this complete manner."

Harris played six seasons in the NFL – five with the San Francisco 49ers and one with the Oakland Raiders – before retiring in 2008. He had been a first-round pick out of Stanford in the 2003 NFL Draft. Harris, 31, always knew he was gay, but had decided to not make that personal information public during his professional football career.

"No, not while I was playing. I didn't see those two things as being compatible," Harris said when asked by his former Stanford teammate if he ever considered coming out while playing. "But now when I look back in hindsight, if I could have done it differently, I would like to think that I would find the strength or find the fortitude or the grace to kind of make the hard decision."

By coming out now – after Chris Culliver’s negative reaction to Harris’ outing back in January, when CBS Sports writer Mike Freeman is revealing that there is a current gay NFL player who is considering coming out and when marriage equality is being put before the supreme court – Harris wants to help others going through what he went through.

“I want people, whether gay athletes, athletes still in the closet, or youths who are not sure what their sexuality is to know those are common feelings,” Harris said. “Don’t feel alone in having them.”

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