MINNEAPOLIS - With a Sports Illustrated cover story, NBA player Jason Collins is making history by 'coming out'.

This makes him the first active openly gay male athlete in the four major American pro team sports.

"It's about time!" says former Minnesota Viking Esera Tuaolo. Tuaolo didn't come out until 2002, after leaving the NFL.

It was a different time when he played. A time of gay slurs in the locker room and broad unacceptance.

"When I played in the NFL for 9 years, I was living with depression, suicidal tendencies, blackouts, alcoholism," says Tuaolo.

He has written about his struggles in his autobiography, Alone in the Trenches: My Life as a Gay Man in the NFL, and now spends his days campaigning against prejudice.

Tuaolo knows of at least two gay athletes currently playing in the NFL and hopes Collins' announcement makes it easier for them to find acceptance.

"The more athletes that come out, the better because it definitely breaks down stereotypes. I think the perception of a gay male is that kid who used to get beat up on the playground back in the day, the one that used to get teased," says Tuaolo. "I think we have definitely come a long way."