Robbie Rogers, the former Columbus Crew player who came out in February, may be planning a comeback.
On Tuesday, just one day after NBA player Jason Collins became the first active male athlete from a major U.S. professional sport to come out, Rogers practiced with the Los Angeles Galaxy, one of the Crew’s Major League Soccer rivals.
Coach Bruce Arena said on the Galaxy team website that Rogers’ potential future in Los Angeles is “open ended,” but he added that the 25-year-old’s coming out isn’t a factor in those decisions. The Chicago Fire, another MLS team, owns the rights to his services, so the Galaxy would need to make a trade for Rogers.
“We’ve had a great mentality of being open and tolerant of all different kinds of people, views, what have you,” Arena said on LAGalaxy.com. “We’ve known Robbie a bunch of years and he’s a first-class person and we’re only too excited to have him here with us.”
“I think our league is a progressive league. Our league is a league comprised of all different races, colors and creeds, and to be accepting of a gay athlete I don’t think is anything that’s difficult for our league.”
Rogers played for the Crew from 2007 to 2011 and helped Columbus win the league’s MLS Cup in 2008. He left to play in England and announced his retirement from soccer when he announced on his blog in February that he’s gay.
He since has opened the door to a comeback.
“I’m definitely not closing any doors,” Rogers told The New York Times in March. “Maybe I will go back. Right now, I’m just happy to be out and being honest with people. But just because I’m out doesn’t mean I’m 100 percent healthy. It’s been 25 years that I haven’t been myself.”
“If I go back to soccer, I want to go back to soccer as Robbie, as a soccer player. I don’t want to go back as this gay athlete,” he told ABC News.
Article continues belowRogers’ coach with the Crew, Sigi Schmid, now coaches the Seattle Sounders and told the Seattle Times on Tuesday that he’d welcome Rogers back to soccer.
“He’s proven himself as a player, and that’s what he should be judged on,” Schmid said. “When he’s on the soccer field, that’s all that matters — how he does as a soccer player. I’m happy for him. I know he feels much happier now that he’s been able to express himself, and I hope his comeback goes well. I hope he doesn’t play for the Galaxy. I’d rather see him play for us.”
Rogers, 25, is a southern California native, and his trip home gave him the chance to see his self-described conservative Catholic family for the first time since coming out to the world.
“It was a time of sadness, in a way, to think that there had been something my son suffered with, maybe, by himself,” Rogers’ mother, Theresa, told ABC News as she held her son’s arm. “And then it was a great moment of joy, to think that we were all together and that we could share it and that we could start something new.”
“Exactly true,” Rogers said.