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FILE ART -Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Simeon Rice battles San Francisco 49ers tackle Kwame Harris at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida November 21, 2004. The Buccaneers defeated the San Francisco 49ers 35 to 3. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Kwame Harris, the former San Francisco 49er player, hid his homosexuality during his six-year playing career because it was "not compatible" with playing in the NFL, he told CNN on Friday.
Harris, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2003 out of Stanford, was outed only after his retirement. Two months ago, he was charged with domestic violence regarding an alleged assault on an ex-boyfriend, according to the Bay Area News Group.
He was not interested in coming out as a player, he told CNN's Coy Wire in an interview taped at Stanford Stadium. "Not while I was playing," he said. "I didn't see those two things as compatible."
Kwame had a brief, troubled career known for erratic and poor play. He led the 49ers in penalties for two years, and also led the Raiders in penalties his one season in Oakland.
He says hiding his sexuality "took a toll on his mentality," the newspaper reported.
"You want to escape this despair, this turmoil, and maybe your mind goes to dark
places sometimes," Harris told CNN. "I would just say that I'm happy today, I'm glad I didn't actually . . . those are just ideas and I didn't act on any of those things. It does get better."
"The cost was great" for Harris "to not speak candidly or be open about myself," he said.
Kwame's orientation was revealed via the assault case, which became public just before the 49ers played in Super Bowl XLVII. A 49ers player then made anti-gay comments, which were strongly condemned by the league and team.