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Roy Simmons’s bio gives a whole new meaning to ‘put me in coach’

“I met this guy named Mike in east Palo Alto. He was a fast-talking
Cuban dude built squat like a spark plug, with wide shoulders and big hips
[and] I found [his] energy attractive, which is why I did him,” recalls
NFL football star Roy Simmons.

“Mike had a Winnebago,” Simmons continues. “He kept a
shitload of crack balled up in a lump of wax paper on the kitchenette counter
… we smoked and drank and smoked some more. I was feeling that particular
way so I blew him a second time.”

So begins Simmons’ just-published drug- and sex-drenched memoir, Out of
Bounds: Coming Out of Sexual Abuse, Addiction and My Life of Lies in the NFL
Closet.

Now, if you hadn’t heard of Simmons prior to his book, he was an
offensive lineman for the New York Giants and Washington Redskins (with whom
he won the Super Bowl in 1984) from 1979 to 1985. He came out on national TV
on Phil Donahue back in 1992.

But you likely heard him on TV at this year’s Super Bowl loudly
charging he was denied access to the Super Bowl media centre because he is
gay and HIV-positive.

It was a classic and very successful publicity stunt, though Simmons tells me
seriously, “I’m still waiting for an apology.”

I don’t believe he’ll get one from the NFL, especially after
Simmons appeared on Howard Stern’s Sirius Satellite radio show and,
given the names John Elway, Dan Marino and Joe Montana, was asked to play
“kill, fuck, marry.”

“Kill Elway, fuck Marino, marry Montana,” Simmons replied. But
that’s not all: Simmons also dropped a bomb— he estimated there
are at least “one or two” gay players on each NFL team.
Which explains why the NFL—the most macho of North America’s
sports leagues—reportedly employs a secret society of investigators who
look for and report on gay NFL players who frequent gay bars.

“You know what I heard?” Simmons asks me. “That
there’s a secret organization of gay NFL players. Is it true?
I’ve been out of the NFL for a long time, but I think it’s too
risky for these guys. Why would someone making a big salary, who could be
married, why put all that in jeopardy?”

In New York Times award-winning sportswriter Mike Freeman’s 2003 book
Bloody Sundays: Inside the Dazzling, Rough-and-Tumble World of the NFL, one
explosive chapter details “a secret society of some 100 to 200 gay and
bisexual NFL players … there are at least several gay players on each team,
maybe more.”

Not surprisingly, the media largely ignored Freeman’s book.

The media isn’t ignoring Simmons’ book, though, which may hurt
his chances of ever being employed by the NFL again. This is despite the fact
that outgoing NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who exits this July after 15
years at the helm, was honoured last autumn by PFLAG (Parents, Friends and
Families of Lesbians and Gays) for his public support of his openly gay son
Drew.

I mentioned this to Simmons, along with the fact that I’ve also
interviewed David Kopay and Esera Tuaolo, the only two other NFL players to
come out of the closet, in this column. Both of them told me they’ve
encountered resistance from the NFL with anything that has to do with
them.

Simmons replied, “At this point the three of us haven’t
conferenced together, but I hope, one day, we three will get together and
initiate something. But I think you’re totally correct: the NFL may
have turned their back on me because of the book. As for the commissioner,
I’ve always had good things to say about him but he could have done
more.”

Simmons’s very readable book details being molested as a child, his
wild nights playing in the hypersexual NFL, the birth of his daughter in
1981, his descent into crack hell and hustling (getting $20 per trick) after
his pro football career, as well as contracting HIV, plus his recent stints
in rehab and current job working as a supervisor in a Long Island drug
halfway house.

About his life on the “down low”—a term used to describe
closeted black bisexual and gay men—Simmons quips, “[The term] is
a way to segregate black gays from white gays.”

Writing Out of Bounds was therapeutic, Simmons says. He also discusses Bible
studies today in less anti-gay terms than he did last year when he talked
about his “former [gay] lifestyle” on Pat Robertson’s TV
show The 700 Club on the Christian Broadcasting Network.

“Bible studies are good,” Simmons tells me. “You say [the
Bible] doesn’t like us. My thing with that is it’s an individual
thing. Each of us has to be accountable for our own acts. We all have our own
personal relationship with the higher power, whether you call it God or
not.”

Simmons also says, “I think coming out as HIV-positive was more
difficult than coming out [as gay]. It was scarier.”

But when I ask him if his daughter and mom have read his memoirs, Simmons
replies quietly, “My mother still reads it sparingly. We haven’t
really talked about it yet.”

Clearly, more difficult days lie ahead for Roy Simmons.
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