Main | Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Openly Gay Former NFL Player Dies

Roy Simmons, one of the few NFL players to come out after leaving the sport, has died in the Bronx at the age of 57.
The cause was complications related to pneumonia, his brother Gary said. Simmons learned he had H.I.V. in 1997 and had other health problems, his brother said. Simmons, a star at Georgia Tech, was drafted in the eighth round by the Giants in 1979 and played four years in the N.F.L., three for the Giants and one for the Redskins. At 6 feet 3 inches and 260 pounds, he had been called Sugar Bear by his teammates since college. Coaches saw enormous potential, but also warning signs in his raucous social life. By his own account, Simmons abused his opportunity in the pros, falling quickly into heavy alcohol and drug use. The night before he played with the Redskins in the 1984 Super Bowl, his last game in the N.F.L., he snorted cocaine. In the stands that Sunday, he said, were friends he had invited, including three lovers — two female, one male. Somehow, he continued to keep his complicated sexuality a secret.
Simmons came out on a episode of Donohue in 1992. In 2006 Simmons accused the NFL of denying him media credentials for the Super Bowl because he was gay and HIV+.
Simmons and noted attorney Gloria Allred held a press conference outside NFL headquarters in New York City on Feb. 9, demanding an investigation. Simmons claims that he asked for a credential to the media center on Feb. 2, three days before Super Bowl XL in Detroit. He also asked for two tickets for the game, won by the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-10 over the Seattle Seahawks, and a party. 'I was once part of the inner circle; now I'm standing on the outside looking in,' said Simmons, who was also denied tickets to the game and the party. The NFL issued a statement: 'It is impossible for all of these requests to be met, and there were many people, apart from Mr. Simmons, who were disappointed. The league said it annually is inundated with requests for last-minute credentials and tickets, and that they are handled by different representatives from the league.'
Simmons' 2006 autobiography, Out of Bounds: Coming Out of Sexual Abuse, Addiction, and My Life of Lies in the NFL Closet, is available at Amazon's Kindle store.

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