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My Life on the Line: How the NFL Damn Near Killed Me, and Ended Up Saving My Life

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Gay NFL player Ryan O’Callaghan’s plan was always to play football and then, when his career was over, take his own life, but in his final days someone from the NFL stepped in and gave him hope.

Forthcoming: 9/3/19

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What people are saying…

“This is a story about love and acceptance. It is a story about honesty and truth, integrity and hope. Ryan O’Callaghan could have kept it to himself, could have given the world a polished look. But instead he offers us all of himself in these pages. By doing so, he will change lives, save lives, and make the path ahead that much smoother for those who bravely follow in his footsteps.”
—Congressman Joe Kennedy III

“Ryan O’Callaghan’s story is so poignant, so real, so human. I truly believe the publication of this book could be (and should be) a seminal moment for many athletes and other people in all walks of life. If an NFL player, cloistered in the manliness of his game, can come out of the closet and tell his story with such purpose, I hope that many others will follow his brave lead. This dramatic story of one athlete’s life might be a turning point for football.”
—Peter King, NFL analyst, NBC Sports

My Life on the Line is an intense, heart-wrenching look at the reality of life in the NFL, told with gripping honesty and courage. Everyone, not just those interested in football, should read this book.”
—Chris Kluwe, former NFL player, author of Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities


Description

The latest from Akashic’s Edge of Sports imprint, curated by Dave Zirin.

Ryan O’Callaghan’s plan was always to play football and then, when his career was over, kill himself. Growing up in a red-state corner of California, the not-so-subtle messages he heard as a young man from his family and from TV and film routinely equated being gay with disease and death. Letting people in on the darkest secret he kept buried inside was not an option, and it never would be. Better death with a secret than life as a gay man.

As a big kid toppling opponents in high school, Ryan never envisioned just how far his football career would take him. He was recruited by the University of California, Berkeley, where he spent five seasons, playing alongside his friend Aaron Rodgers and eventually winning the Morris Trophy. Then it was on to the NFL for stints with the almost-undefeated New England Patriots—where he was tasked with keeping MVP QB Tom Brady on his feet—and the often-defeated Kansas City Chiefs.

Bubbling under the surface of Ryan’s entire NFL career was a collision course between his secret sexuality and his hidden drug use. When the NFL caught him smoking pot, he turned to NFL-sanctioned prescription painkillers that quickly sent his life into a tailspin. As injuries mounted and his daily intake of opioids reached a near-lethal level, he wrote his suicide note to his parents and plotted his death.

Yet someone had been watching. A member of the Chiefs organization stepped in, recognizing the signs of drug addiction. Ryan reluctantly sought psychological help, and it was there that he revealed his lifelong secret for the very first time: he’s gay. Now in his late twenties, Ryan faced a fork in the road of his life: end it, or find out if his family and football friends could ever accept a gay man in their lives.


Book Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Published: 9/3/19
  • IBSN: 9781617757594
  • e-IBSN: 9781617757709
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781617757587

Authors

RYAN O’CALLAGHAN played right tackle in the NFL for six seasons, with the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. Before he was drafted by the Patriots in 2006, he played for the University of California Golden Bears, where he helped the team win two bowl games and was named the 2005 Morris Trophy winner as the Pac-10’s best offensive lineman. O’Callaghan is the creator of a foundation designed to provide scholarships for out LGBTQ athletes. He currently lives in his hometown of Redding, California. My Life on the Line: How the NFL Damn Near Killed Me, and Ended Up Saving My Life is his debut memoir.

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CYD ZEIGLER is the cofounder and coeditor of Outsports.com, the world’s most renowned publication dealing with LGBTQ issues in sports. One of the world’s leading experts on the intersection of sexuality and sports, Zeigler has been tapped to discuss the issue by CNN, ESPN, the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and many others. He has worked with countless athletes to tell their coming-out stories, including professional athletes Michael Sam, John Amaechi, and Ryan O’Callaghan. He is also the author of Fair Play: How LGBT Athletes Are Claiming Their Rightful Place in Sports. A graduate of Stanford University, Zeigler now lives in Los Angeles with his husband and two cats. My Life on the Line: How the NFL Damn Near Killed Me, and Ended Up Saving My Life is his latest work.

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