DENVER—In a stunning revelation Friday that sent shockwaves through the NFL, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning announced during an emotional press conference that he is gay for football.

“For many years I’ve struggled with hiding this secret, but after a great deal of soul-searching, I know it’s time to publicly acknowledge that, yes, I’m gay for football,” said Manning, who wiped away tears while admitting that disclosing his true feelings about the sport provided a huge sense of relief. “Deep down, I always knew that I was gay for football. I think the guys in the locker room suspected that for a long time, too.”

“I am a man who loves football, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of,” added the four-time NFL MVP. “It’s not a choice. I was born this way, and you can’t fight who you are.”

Manning, who told reporters that he first experienced an overwhelming attraction to football when he was 5 years old, said that he felt obliged to conceal his true personal and social identity, fearing that being openly gay for the sport would be humiliating for himself and his family.

The four-time MVP said he ultimately decided to come out because he wanted to be a role model for kids who think that being gay for football somehow makes them different, strange, or inferior in some way.

“I was the only kid in my high school who was gay for football, and that was very tough for me,” Manning said. “All the other guys would be talking about girls or whatever, and I’d join in so they wouldn’t suspect anything. But all I was really thinking about were slant routes, three-step drops, and winning Super Bowls.”

While initially concerned about being ostracized by the Broncos, Manning was touched when coaches and players lauded the 37-year-old for bravely coming out.

“Peyton was very courageous to do this at a time when many people might judge him as a freak,” said Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller. “But I think they’d be surprised by how many of their favorite NFL players are super gay for football.”

Archie Manning, retired New Orleans Saints quarterback and father of Peyton, confirmed that he always knew his son was gay for football.

“I could always tell that Peyton was gay for football when he was just a little kid out on the field,” said Archie Manning, adding that his family loves and supports Peyton. “Compared to the other kids, he was just really different. I was pretty sure when I’d watch the way he’d flamboyantly throw his arms in the air while calling audibles at the line of scrimmage or gush on and on for hours about his favorite passing plays.”

“The person I’m most concerned for right now is Peyton’s wife, Ashley,” he added. “I can’t imagine the emotional toll this must be taking on her. To marry a man and then find out his one true love isn’t you and probably never has been must be extremely difficult.”

At press time, Peyton Manning was surprised by the immense outpouring of support from everyday Americans who are also gay for football.