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NFL Star Kerry Rhodes 'I AM NOT GAY'

4/11/2013 10:25 AM PDT

NFL Star Kerry Rhodes -- 'I AM NOT GAY'

NFL 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 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.

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