Alexia Fernandez
September 26, 2017 AT 09:29 AM EDT

Previously, this singing contestant was a human wrecking ball, but on Monday night he was wreaking havoc on people’s emotions with his singing strength and not his physical might. Former NFL player Esera Tuaolo amazed The Voice judges and the audience with his rendition of Andra Day’s “Rise Up” on the premiere of the singing TV show.

Tuaolo, 49, kept his sexual orientation a secret from his NFL teammates during the nine years he was a defensive tackle, but player revealed on Monday night’s show what it was like to finally come out.

“When I finished in the NFL, I came out to my family. When I said those words for the first time, when I said that I was gay, it was like this huge mountain just crumbled,” the former Minnesota Vikings player said. “I felt light as a feather but when I jumped on the scale I was still that 6-foot-4, 300-pound Samoan that’s gay and played in the NFL.”


Going from NFL star to singer has been part of his journey to living his life to the fullest.

“What The Voice has given me is an opportunity to reach for the stars,” he said before stepping onto the stage.

Tuaolo immediately caught the attention of judges Jennifer Hudson and Blake Shelton.

“That is one of my favorite songs, which is part of why it caught my attention,” Hudson, who turned her chair first, said.

Tuaolo, who is from Hawaii but lives in Minnesota, sported his NFC championship ring during his audition.

When it came to picking a judge, Tualo went with Shelton, who said, “I’m a country singer, but I’ve got a lot of experience doing this with a lot of different artists. I like great singers, and you’re one of them.”

“I’m such a football geek and if I was your coach I’d probably drive you nuts,” he continued. “You’ve definitely got two servings of talent, man.”

As he walked off stage, Tuaolo couldn’t help but say, “That was better than the Super Bowl.”

The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.

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