Watch the Willamette University football kicker's video interview below with Outsports' Cyd Zeigler and You Can Play's Wade Davis on how and why he came out.
Days later, his boyfriend Chandler Whitney came out as gay during the first week of winter practice with his baseball team at Walla Walla Community College. Outsports covers his story here.
Former NFL kicker and LGBTQA ally Chris Kluwe applauds Mertens' courage.
Kluwe writes in theguardian.com that all athletes competing at the 2014 Winter Olympics have the moral obligation to speak out against Russia's legislated homophobia.
Mertens says he hopes his coming-out story "[lays] a trail for somebody else to do something like this, and have it be easier for them."
As more sports players come out, the more evident it becomes the LGBT community is everywhere and comes in all shapes and sizes - even tough, competitive athletes.