No romance in the NFL? No, there isn’t really. I had to make it up. You see, there aren’t any out players in the NFL. Actually, I don’t think there are any out players in the NBA, the NHL or in MLB. I want to say WTF except for the fact that it gives me an opportunity to write something I think is pretty cool…a story about the first two out NFL players.
I kept the idea under wraps for quite awhile. Only my pal ZAM knew what I was plotting. Eventually, I enlisted the aid of a co-worker to help me out with some football info. He and I discussed expansion teams and what one would be called if LA ever got one. Michael has been a huge help even though he thinks it will be a long time before an active player in the NFL does come out. I think it will happen sooner than Michael thinks.
Other than ZAM, I had my other reader all set up. Fellow author William Neale was excited to read this story for me. He knew football and he loved the premise of the story. Unfortunately, Bill died recently and I was bereft at losing a friend. Now, I’ve got other readers in place including Marty Mankins who is a brave het soul for reading a gay romance. It’s a testament to his masculinity that reading this book does not faze him in the least. GO MARTY!
Anyway, the publisher I wanted for this book has requested the full manuscript and I’ve been working on it diligently to get it finished by the deadline, June 1. I’m just over a third of the way through this and it seems epic to me because it spans these two players’ lives from age sixteen to thirty. Of course, the bits when they were younger are like vignettes. That section of the book has each chapter showing the reader a significant scene in their lives that has to do with football, being gay and their relationship with each other. The middle section of the book takes place a few years before the present day and its focus is on a milestone event in the two mens’ lives. The player who has been in a relationship since college finds out that his partner has been cheating on him and is HIV+. The partner has a family history of illness and dying young so, of course, it takes no time at all, despite modern day medicine, for the man to end up with full blown AIDS. And he dies.
That is the turning point in the book. Both of my players face their mortality, the possibility of having their careers in the NFL cut short and choices about love and friendship. I keep them apart romantically until the last half of the book, but I do get into key issues like the way the media treats them and the things they have to do in order to keep positive press flowing, how other players treat them, how injury affects them, and what you do when you are forced by injury to retire from a game that’s been your whole life since you were six years old.
It’s a deeper book than anything else I’ve written because usually, I focus on a relationship between two people and what they have to overcome to be together. This book isn’t just about the relationship between my two players (who actually do get a Happily Ever After with each other) but about how their relationships with others and with football affects their friendship and their love for each other. I don’t usually get into external forces much in my books but this time I do. It’s an emotional story, funny one moment and heartwrenching the next. I’m really proud of it thus far and I really hope the publisher likes it because I seriously want this house to publish it.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to, putting romance – and gay romance at that – into the NFL. HEH. And now, here’s this Monday’s Marcus!
That’s such a pretty one! Oh, yum! Have a great Monday everyone!