Stoppage Time: Rogers' announcement sends mixed signals
(Sports Network) - This was the moment that the soccer world has been waiting for, right?
An active player in the prime of his career announcing that he is gay and bravely stepping forward as the face of a campaign to bring tolerance to the sport.
Yet, just as soon as former Columbus Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers made public the fact that he is gay on his personal blog on Friday, he also became a retired player in the same breath.
"I always thought I could hide this secret," Rogers said on his blog. "Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined. I will always be thankful for my career."
Rogers went on to talk about how he feels like a "free man" after the announcement with a new lease on life.
And while finally coming out has to be a massive weight lifted from his shoulders, it really does nothing to further the cause of gay players in soccer.
At 25, Rogers still had a potentially full career ahead of him after a successful start in MLS with the Crew from 2007-11.
Rogers earned 18 caps with the United States national team and had the potential to work his way into the future plans of U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
He failed to impress during a short spell at Leeds United in England, which was followed by a loan stint at lower-division club Stevenage.
A return to MLS would have given him a chance to bounce back on the field while having the support of his friends and family in this country after making his announcement.
Rogers obviously wanted no part of leading a crusade to help gay players gain acceptance in the game, and it is hard to criticize him for that.
But by walking away at the same time he came out, he almost does more to hurt the cause.
Germany international Philipp Lahm was rumored to be gay around the time he released a book in 2011, but he vehemently denied the rumors and even advised against gay players coming out.
Lahm specifically referred to Justin Fashanu, who was the first professional player in England to come out publicly while being an active player in the 1990's.
Fashanu later discussed how deeply-rooted the anti-gay prejudice in the game is before taking his own life in 1998.
Figures within the game have spoken recently about how they believe that an openly-gay player would be supported, not criticized, if he came out.
Manchester United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard spoke on this topic in a blog for a Danish betting site.
"Homosexuals are in need of a hero," Lindegaard said in his blog which was distributed by the Telegraph. "They are in need of someone who dares to stand up for their sexuality. But homosexuality in football is a taboo subject and the atmosphere on the pitch and in the stands is tough.
"As a footballer, I think a homosexual colleague would be afraid of the reception he could get from the fans, but my impression is that the players would not have a problem accepting a homosexual."
Rogers doesn't seem like someone who came out to be a hero, rather a man who was looking to get something off his chest.
Yet, by choosing to retire rather than continue playing, Rogers sends the message that the game is not yet ready to embrace a gay player.