EXCLUSIVENFL star Kerry Rhodes -- who's been in the league since 2005 -- tells TMZ he's not gay ... despite reports suggesting otherwise.
Photos surfaced Thursday on MediaTakeOut.com showing 30-year-old Rhodes with his arm around a male friend. The site didn't say outright Rhodes was gay, but there was a strong insinuation ... not that there's anything wrong with it.
But Rhodes says he's as straight as an arrow -- telling TMZ, "Photos have been circulating of my former assistant and I that have caused some rumors regarding my sexuality, and I wanted to address the situation."
Rhodes then says flatly, "I am not gay."
Rhodes explains: "The shots were taken during a past vacation in a casual environment with my entire business team."
Rhodes says when it comes to being supportive of gay professional athletes coming out, he's on Magic Johnson's team: "I know a lot of people are recently talking about athletes struggling to come out to their fans right now, and I support them, as well as wish those individuals comfort."
Rhodes -- who played for the Cardinals last year -- is now a free agent.