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A First: NFL Commissioner’s Gay Brother Opens Up About Being Bullied

In the heroic Time cover story, Roger Goodell’s brother Michael talks about how Roger protected him growing up. “It was a lifelong thing,” he said.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walks on the field before the start of the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Oct. 28, 2012. Gary Hershorn / Reuters

According to Time, the NFL commissioner’s younger brother was the target of bullies while growing up. Roger, who was an aggressive kid, channeled his energy into defending Michael.

“Absolutely, he would beat the crap out of people,” said ­Michael. “Roger was not Atticus Finch.”

Unfortunately, the bullying was something that didn’t stop in college. Yet, Roger continued to be Michael’s protector.

Michael once visited Roger in college and went to the bar where he worked. “There were these two twins, they were body-builder twins, they were freaks,” said Michael. The meatheads picked Michael up and were about to punch him, until Roger started cursing them from behind the bar. They put Michael down. “So yeah, it was a lifelong thing,” says Michael of the intervention.

It wasn’t until after college that Michael came out. He is now married to TV writer Jack Kenny.

Like many gay kids who committed suicide because of bullying, Michael felt that he easily could have been one of them if it were not for Roger.

“I was the type who would have been beat up a lot,” Michael said. “It would have been humiliating. What would that have meant if I did survive it? Would I have done drugs? There are all sorts of things you can turn to just because of self-hatred and loathing. But none of that was even a possibility, because I had this support around me. So, yeah, Roger is very much a hero figure for me.”

The interview Time conducted with Michael was the first time he discussed what it was like growing up — and the first time Roger heard him talk about it.

“Ha,” Roger said with a tear in his eye. “That’s the first time I heard that. I didn’t know it had that much impact on him.”

Michael is pictured front and center with his family on the steps. His brother, Roger, is next to him (with the red arrow). Image courtesy of Time.

BuzzFeed Sports has more on Goodell’s cover story here.

Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!

 
 

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