NFL free agent Kerry Rhodes had his sexuality questions by the media when a publication put out photos of the football player on vacation with a male friend.
Media Takeout published pictures of Rhodes on April 10 that the website said "looked suspect," along with an attention-grabbing headline: "Top NFL Superstar Is Photo'd On VACATION...With One Of His 'MALE FRIENDS.'"
"Now we're not gonna jump to conclusions here," the reporter began the article with, then added, "But we got our hands on some vacation pics of NFL star Kerry Rhodes and one of his male friends....CHILLLLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEE!!!"
One picture shows the 30-year-old athlete sitting on a boat with his arm around the shoulder of an unidentified male, and in another Rhodes is topless and carrying the male who is laughing. A third image shows the NFL star holding a gaze at the male, who looks away from the camera.
On Wednesday, Rhodes issued a statement to debunk the claim.
"Photos have been circulating of my former assistant and I that have caused some rumors regarding my sexuality, and I wanted to address the situation," Rhodes told TMZ. "I am not gay. The shots were taken during a past vacation in a casual environment with my entire business team."
Rhodes then said he "supports" the coming out of gay athletes and wishes them well.
"I know a lot of people are recently talking about athletes struggling to come out to their fans right now, and I support them, as well as wish those individuals comfort."
The report suggesting that Rhodes is a closeted NFL player comes a week after another athlete announced that four NFL players are considering coming out as gay.
Brendon Ayanbadejo announced on April 4 that "up to four (active) players" in the NFL are currently in talks to announce their sexuality, and that it might happen "soon."
"We're in talks with a handful of players who are considering it," Ayanbadejo told Radar Online. "There are up to four players being talked to right now, and they're trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together."
Ayanbadejo said there will likely be a "backlash" following the reveal, but if the athletes come out collectively the impact of the news may be far less damaging. The former Baltimore Ravens player has openly vocalized his support for gay rights and same sex marriage. He was given the Straight for Equality in Sports Award at the fifth-annual PFLAG National Straight for Equality Awards on April 4.