Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Falk: Robbie Rogers makes the biggest play of his life
Soccer » Support flowed in for ex-Crew member who came out, but there’s still a ways to go.

By Aaron Falk

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Feb 16 2013 02:06 pm • Last Updated May 21 2013 11:32 pm

If Robbie Rogers looked cool and collected when he was brought on that August night in 2011, perhaps it was because nothing could cause more pressure than the secret he’d been keeping his entire life.

Then a midfielder with the Columbus Crew, Rogers was the hero of the first match of America’s Jurgen Klinsmann era, when he got his right foot on a pass across the face of the goal to force a 1-1 draw with Mexico.

At a glance

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Eighteen months later, the 25-year-old Rogers again deserves praise as he came out Friday as a gay man and announced he was stepping away from soccer.

"Life is simple when your secret is gone," Rogers wrote in a brief but powerful post on his official website. "Gone is the pain that lurks in the stomach at work, the pain from avoiding questions, and at last the pain from hiding such a deep secret.

"Secrets can cause so much internal damage. People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay. Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently."

With that, a promising American international who had spent the past two seasons playing in England, announced he was stepping away from soccer in the prime of his life.

"It’s time to discover myself away from football," he wrote.

The reaction to Rogers’ announcement from fellow players was overwhelmingly positive.

ESPN analyst and former player Taylor Twellman tweeted words of support. Sporting Kansas City’s Benny Feilhaber wrote to Rogers saying, "Proud to call you my friend."

Indeed, Major League Soccer and soccer in general has worked hard to crack down on bigotry in all its forms.

story continues below
story continues below

When Kevin-Prince Boateng and AC Milan were subject to racial taunts in a match earlier this year, the Italian side walked off the field in protest. And in last year’s playoffs, MLS handed down a three-game suspension and fine, along with ordering sensitivity training, for Seattle’s Marc Burch after he used a homophobic slur against then-RSL midfielder Will Johnson. The penalty was much more severe than what you would expect to see from other professional leagues in America.

But that Rogers’ announcement was breaking news across the globe showed, in some ways, that there is still a long way to go, both in and out of the locker room.

That will change in time, thanks in part to Rogers’ courage.

As former RSL defender Eddie Pope wrote to the young man on Twitter: "Brave men like you will make it so that one day there’s no need for an announcement. That day can’t arrive soon enough."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.