American Football Database
Esera Tuaolo
No. 98, 95, 93     
Defensive tackle
Personal information
Date of birth: (1968-07-11) July 11, 1968 (age 54)
Place of birth: Honolulu, Hawaii
Career information
College: Oregon State
NFL Draft: 1991 / Round: 2 / Pick: 35
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
*Green Bay Packers ( 1991 1992)
Career highlights and awards
*1989 Morris Trophy (Defense)
Stats at

Esera Tavai Tuaolo (born July 11, 1968), nicknamed "Mr. Aloha," is a former American professional football player. He was a defensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL) for 10 years.

Early life

Tuaolo, who is of Samoan ancestry, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii,[1] and was raised in poverty in a banana-farming family in Waimanalo. His father died when Tuaolo was ten years of age.

Football career

He played college football at Oregon State University and was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He won the Morris Trophy in 1989, which is given to the best defensive lineman in the Pac-10.[2] He was named Pac-10 Conference First Team twice and as a senior he was a finalist for the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy.[2]

Tuaolo then had a successful career as a nose tackle in the NFL for nine years, playing for five NFL teams.[3] The Green Bay Packers drafted him in the 1991 NFL Draft in the second round as the 35th overall pick.[3] He played 20 games for the Green Bay Packers from 1991 to 1992, was the first rookie in Packer history to start all 16 games in a season, and was a member of the 1991 all-rookie team.[4][5] Tuaolo then played 60 games for the Minnesota Vikings from 1992 to 1996; 6 games for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1997; 13 games for the Atlanta Falcons in 1998; and 12 games for the Carolina Panthers in 1999.[3][5] He recorded 134 tackles, 12 sacks, and 1 interception, and, in 1998, won the NFC Championship with the Atlanta Falcons before losing at the Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos.[5][4][6] During that Super Bowl XXXIII, Tuaolo recorded the last tackle of football legend John Elway.

Music career

Tuaolo has entertained a singing career during and after football. While with the Packers, for example, Tuaolo once sang the National Anthem in full pads before a game against the Chicago Bears, and then immediately after started in that game.[7] He has since sung the anthem at professional sporting events, from NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA games to the opening ceremony of the Gay Games VII, a quadrennial Olympics-style event.[8][9][10] He has also released his own music, such as "Stronger" and "Another Broken Heart" the latter with Lari White, and has performed at various venues and events in the United States and Europe.[11][12]

The Voice

In 2017, he auditioned for season 13 of The Voice singing "Rise Up" from Andra Day. Two of the four judges, Jennifer Hudson and Blake Shelton turned their chair. Tuaolo chose to be on Team Blake. In the Battle round he was paired with Team Blake contestant Rebecca Brunner, both singing "This I Promise You" from NSYNC. Coach Shelton chose Tuaolo to go to the Knockouts round.

In the Knockouts, he confronted Adam Cunningham. Tuaolo sang "Superstar" from Delaney & Bonnie made famous by The Carpenters and also famously covered by Luther Vandross. Coach Shelton opted to keep Tuaolo for the playoff round, eliminating Cunningham from his team.

On the Playoffs broadcast on November 13, 2017, he sang "How Do I Live" from LeAnn Rimes. Blake Shelton, being forced to pick only three of his team's six finalists, chose to exclude Tuaolo from his final three, thus eliminating Tuaolo from the competition.

Personal life

In 2002, having retired from sports, Tuaolo announced to the public that he is gay, coming out on HBO's Real Sports.[13] This made him the third former NFL player to come out, after David Kopay and Roy Simmons.

Since coming out, Tuaolo has been a strong advocate for the LGBT community. For example, he has worked with the NFL to combat homophobia in the league and is a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Athletics Foundation.[4][14] He has testified at the State Legislature Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in opposition to an anti-gay marriage bill.[15] He makes and has made appearances on various television programs, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Tyra Banks Show, and Good Morning America, to talk about and combat homophobia.[16][17] Tuaolo's current LGBT advocacy primarily involves speaking at colleges and corporations about the pervasiveness of homophobia and helping organizational leaders create a fair and safe environment for their members and employees.[18][19][20]

Tuaolo is also an author. His autobiography, Alone in the Trenches: My Life As a Gay Man in the NFL, was released in the spring of 2006. (ISBN 1-4022-0923-1). It details Tuaolo's upbringing and sheds light on how his experiences with poverty, sexuality, and football shaped him.

Tuaolo was arrested for a minor domestic incident with his then boyfriend in June 2010 in North Oaks, Minnesota. He was released on $2,000 bail with a court date set for August.[21][22] Although some media coverage arose, the prosecutor dismissed the charges.[23]

Tuaolo currently resides in Minneapolis and has twins, Mitchell and Michele. Along with his advocacy and singing, he does philanthropic work, cooks professionally, and runs Hate in Any Form is Wrong, an anti-bullying program.[24]

See also

  • Homosexuality in American football


  1. "Esera Tuaolo Wiki: Age, Net Worth, “The Voice,” & Facts to Know" (in en-US). Earn The Necklace. October 31, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "DT Esera Tuaolo, Oregon State. 1989 | The Morris Trophy" (in en-US). The Morris Trophy.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Esera Tuaolo Stats |" (in en).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Esera Tuaolo Addresses Rookies At NFL Symposium". Outsports.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Esera Tuaolo".
  6. "DT Esera Tuaolo, Oregon State. 1989 | The Morris Trophy" (in en-US). The Morris Trophy.
  7. Tuaolo, Esera (2006). Alone in the Trenches: My Life as a Gay Man in the NFL. pp. 107.
  8. "Esera Tuaolo sings National Anthem at Packer game". Outsports.
  9. "Esera Tuaolo Sings The National Anthem At Doger Staduim Sporting Our MKF802's" (in en).'s.
  10. "Esera Tuaolo |" (in en).
  11. Reed, William F.. "Esera Tuaolo".
  12. Lacey, Ryan (September 20, 2015). "Esera Tuaolo: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know" (in en-US).
  13. Buzinski, Jim (2002), "Sports: Gay Male",, archived from the original on August 14, 2007,, retrieved August 19, 2007
  14. "GLAF".
  15. Ruth, David (April 5, 2006), "We are all children of God",, archived from the original on August 12, 2007,, retrieved February 16, 2013
  16. "Faces of Sports: Esera Tuaolo Continues to Give Back" (in en-US). Compete Network.
  17. News, A. B. C. (January 6, 2006). "Former NFL Player Speaks Out on Being Gay".
  18. "Convocation: Esera Tuaolo" (in en-US).
  19. "Gay Man in the NFL" (in en-US). March 6, 2006.
  20. "OSU alum Tuaolo to speak at OSU about NFL, life as gay athlete | News and Research Communications | Oregon State University" (in en).
  21. Ex-NFL Player Esera Tuaolo Arrested on Domestic Violence Charges, June 27, 2010,, retrieved August 18, 2010
  22. Update: Retired Gay NFL Player Esera Tuaolo Allegedly Assaulted His Current Partner,, retrieved August 18, 2010
  23. "Esera Tuaolo speaks about coming back from two very dark years, dropped charges". Outsports.
  24. "Former Minnesota Viking Turned Celebrity Chef".

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