Here is some truly great reporting here from veteran soccer writer Shawn Mitchell of The Columbus Dispatch.
It doesn’t sound like Rogers will be talking to media anytime soon about Friday’s revelations, although he will clearly have ample opportunity considering his prominent place in the domestic game.
So Mitchell went to the next link in the chain. He dialed up Andy Iro, who was in a great position to provide some insight.
Iro played with Rogers at Columbus, and he was united once again with the speedy left winger at Stevenage FC in England’s third tier. Rogers had a short stay at the club (coached by former Colorado Rapids manager Gary Smith, who won MLS Cup 2010 for the Rapids) but left the club recently.
Iro, reached in England, painted a sharp picture, one that we all might have assumed now in retrospect, of a man in heavy conflict about his choice.
He knew he couldn’t be the man he wanted to be when he had to hide something so integral to his life. I think with football, with the locker room and the banter that goes around, I don’t think it made him uncomfortable but he didn’t want to continue a lie. I think he genuinely started to become interested in some other passions (fashion, publishing, etc.). He’ll always have a love for soccer. He’ll always check the Arsenal score. But I think he felt like this chapter has ended. He’s ready to move on to other things. Once he’s retired then he’s out of the picture for most people. He seems fairly adamant that he wanted to be done with football.”
There are so much good, revealing, wise words from Iro here, on the process of coming out, on whether Rogers might rejoin the sport at some point and more. Iro speaks so highly of Rogers and with so much humanity about the developments, it makes you happy that Rogers had good people like this around him through the years.
What Iro had to say about the difficulty of coming out in professional sports:
This is a very ego-driven sport, very male, a lad kind of sport. Coming out to football players, guys that he’s played with, been in the locker room with, that’s extremely difficult. I don’t know too many people that have a closer relationship with their family and there were obviously some religious issues there. And with soccer and Southern California and those things, that’s kind of a homogenous group there. So coming out as a gay man has implications for both he and his family. It wasn’t the easiest thing for him to do, but there was a good response from his family. I think that put him at ease.”