Esera Tavai Tuaolo (born July 11, 1968) is a retired American professional football player. He was a defensive tackle in the NFL for nine years.
1 Early life,
2 Football career,
3 Personal life,
4 See also,
6 External links,
Tuaolo, who is of Samoan ancestry, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and was raised in poverty in a banana-farming family in Waimanalo. His father died when Tuaolo was ten years of age.
He played college football at Oregon State University and was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He was selected in the 1991 NFL Draft. Nicknamed "Mr. Aloha", Tuaolo played nose tackle for several teams in his career, reaching the Super Bowl in 1999 while playing with the Atlanta Falcons. He also played for the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers during his career.
He also recorded the last tackle of football legend John Elway.
In 2002, having retired from sports, he announced to the public that he is gay, coming out on HBO's Real Sports. This made him the third former NFL player to come out, after David Kopay and Roy Simmons. He has since worked with the NFL to attempt to combat homophobia in the league and is a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Athletics Foundation. He also made an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2004 to share his coming out story as well.
In 2006, Tuaolo sang the national anthem at the opening ceremony of the Gay Games VII, a quadrennial Olympics-style event. During his career with the Packers, Tuaolo once sang the anthem before a game against the Chicago Bears. Kopay administered the official's oath during the opening ceremony. Also that year, he testified at the State Legislature Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in opposition to an anti-gay-marriage bill.
Tuaolo's relationship with Mitchell Wherley ended in July 2007.
Tuaolo's autobiography, Alone in the Trenches: My Life As a Gay Man in the NFL, was released in spring 2006. (ISBN 1-4022-0505-8) He also appeared on The Tyra Banks Show talking about his becoming open about his homosexuality to the NFL and speaking out against their "Don't ask, don't tell" policy which is similarly held by U.S. Scouts groups.
Tuaolo was arrested for domestic violence in June 2010 in North Oaks, Minnesota. He was released on $2,000 bail with a court date set for August. Tuaolo stated that the person he was accused of assaulting was his current boyfriend and that it was a personal matter that was overblown by the media.