Ex-Patriots lineman Ryan O'Callaghan, who came out as gay, recalls Robert Kraft's support

Former NFL player Ryan O'Callaghan said New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft supported him when he publicly came out as gay two years ago and told him he will be "forever a Patriot." 

O'Callaghan was a member of the Patriots during the team's campaign that ended in a stunning Super Bowl upset in 2007 — the only loss in an 18-1 season.

In the epilogue of O'Callaghan's new book, "My Life on the Line: How the NFL Damn Near Killed Me, and Ended up Saving My Life," due out September, the former Patriots lineman recounted a phone call he received from Kraft and a preseason reception O'Callaghan was invited to when Kraft showed him the team's 2016 Super Bowl ring. 

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At the reception, in summer of 2017, O'Callaghan recalled Kraft saying: "What you did took a lot of courage. I'm so proud of you." 

Former player Ryan O'Callaghan during a 2006 Patriots practice at Gillete Stadium.

"Spending a few minutes privately with Mr. Kraft in his office is surreal," O'Callaghan wrote in the book. "It's just him and me, with a couple hundred people outside his office door. ...I never got that treatment when I was on his payroll. For (Kraft), who opens up to me about a gay friend, I am the most important person in the world in those few moments. Given where I have been in the previous dozen years, he is equally the most important person in the world for me right then and there." 

O'Callaghan said at the reception, former Patriots Kevin Faulk, Andre Tippett, Dan Koppen and Deion Branch singled him out with praise and made him feel part of the franchise's forever family. 

"I was an offensive lineman who was with the Patriots for only three seasons (2006-08)," O'Callaghan wrote. "It hits me how far I have come, how many lives I have affected both before and after I shared my story." 

O'Callaghan came out as gay in 2017 after retiring from the league in 2011. Fearing condemnation while hiding his sexual orientation during a football career that spanned six seasons, O’Callaghan said he had regular suicidal thoughts while growing addicted to painkillers and he had elaborately planned his own death for retirement.

In "My Life On the Line," co-authored by Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler, O'Callaghan chronicled how the NFL's policy on marijuana ultimately drove him to his addiction to painkillers. He credits then-Kansas City Chiefs executive Scott Pioli and Dr. Susan Wilson for saving his life once he came out to them. 

He also recounted the initial support when he came out of former teammate and friend Aaron Rodgers and the response of former Kansas City Chiefs teammate, kicker Dustin Colquitt.

O'Callaghan wrote in the book: "'You seem very happy,' Dustin says at the end of our visit. The only Ryan O'Callaghan he had known was a guy sinking into drugs and depression, writing a suicide note at night and building his own crypt. Now I am, for maybe the first time in my life, finding actual happiness."