Gay Former NFL Player Roy Simmons Dies at 57

Roy Simmons, a former offensive lineman for the Giants and the Washington Redskins who came out of the closet after his career had ended, has died at the age of 57, the NYT reports:

SimmonsThe 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.

The paper adds:

By his own account, Simmons (pictured, during his career) 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.

Years later, in 1992, appearing on “Donahue,” Phil Donahue’s television talk show, and with a former girlfriend and family members watching, Simmons made a stunning, awkward disclosure: He was gay. At the time, Simmons was the second former N.F.L. player to declare that he was homosexual. Dave Kopay, a running back who played nine seasons, was the first, in 1975.

Read the full report here.


  1. Gregory In Seattle says

    I can only imagine the pressure he must have been under, being gay in the NFL in the late 70s and early 80s. It is no wonder he turned to alcohol and drugs.

  2. Randy says

    “three lovers — two female, one male … complicated sexuality”
    “He was gay”

    I’m gonna say, no, he was bi.

  3. Stufromoz says

    Randy, he chose to identify later as gay. The multiple lovers earlier indicate confusion in his mind, which he later appears to have cleared up…

  4. SpaceCadet says

    It must have been hard in those days with all of the pressure on him to remain closeted. Thank God, we are finally being able to emerge from that in professional sports thanks to trailblazers like Jason Collins and Michael Sam. At least Roy was able to come out and be honest with himself many years ago. RIP.