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Former NFL Player Ryan O’Callaghan at Magers & Quinn
October 24, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pmFree
Ryan O’Callaghan presents his memoir My Life on the Line: How the NFL Damn Near Killed Me and Ended Up Saving My Life at Magers & Quinn bookstore.
Ryan O’Callaghan’s plan was always to play football and then, when his career was over, kill himself. Growing up in a politically conservative 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 league 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. It was only after a member of his NFL team’s organization recognized O’Callaghan’s struggle with an opioid addiction that Ryan was urged to seek help, and through this therapy, he was able to come to terms with his identity as a gay man — and live to tell his story.
Ryan O’Callaghan played right tackle in the NFL for six seasons, with the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. 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.