Despite rumors, safety Kerry Rhodes doesn't think he's blacklisted

Kerry Rhodes hasn't retired yet. (Getty Images)
Kerry Rhodes hasn't retired yet. (Getty Images)

There's been much discussion this month about presumed future NFL player Michael Sam and how an acknowledged gay player would fit into an NFL locker room.

Most of the talk has been positive -- which, of course, is an encouraging sign for the league and for, well, humanity. But former Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes, ranked as one of the best safeties in the game in 2012 who couldn't find a job last season, says none of this applies to him.

Though there have been rumors about his sexual orientation -- especially after a despicable website last year posted photos with Rhodes and his male assistant and implied that they were lovers -- Rhodes has maintained that he's not gay and that he hasn't been shut out from the league.

"I don't think I was blacklisted," Rhodes told ESPN New York. "Especially with the NFL I don't think they would do that ... to me it was a product of me wanting to do other things and not finding the right opportunity ...

"I emphatically said no once [to the rumor that he's gay] and that's all I need to say and people who know me know that's definitely not the case. To me I'm definitely not and I can't control what people think, so I move on."

And he continues to want to play.

By Pro Football Focus metrics, he was ranked as the fourth-best safety in the league in 2012, but he says he might have been too expensive to sign for last season. Arizona, where he played the last three years of his career after working for the Jets from 2005-09, offered him a job at the end of the 2012 season, but Rhodes wasn't willing to play for less than he thought he was worth.

He doesn't consider himself retired, though.

"Every option for me is open," Rhodes said. "It's about me staying ready to go, I would probably have to take a deal right now, but if an opportunity that's good for them and also good for me I would entertain it and want to come back and play. I still love football and it's still a part of me. That's not closed. But I'm not going to go into a situation where it's not beneficial to myself. Because with the things I'm doing now I feel pretty comfortable and confident. It's just what works best. But definitely haven't closed that door yet."

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