We’re still waiting with bated breath for the first NFL player to come sprinting out of the closet, but an interview in this week’s Houston Chronicle suggests openly gay footballers have been on the field for as long as two decades. Openly gay, at least, to their fellow teammates.
Inspired by Jason Collins’ announcement that made him the first openly gay NBA star and several other recently-out athletes like Tom Daley and Brian Boitano, former members of the 1993 Houston Oilers lineup admit they knew that two of their teammates were gay, and more importantly, it was “no big deal” both on the field and in the locker room.
“Everybody knew certain guys [were gay],” said cornerback Cris Dishman. “Everybody speculated and people used to see these two guys come in by themselves. They’d leave at lunchtime and then come back.” Hmm, a secret couple?
The ’93 Houston Oilers lineup has been considered “the most dysfunctional pro football team ever to take the field,” but linebacker Lamar Lathon insists the group was more of an inclusive family than a football team. He added that he’s “never seen tougher guys than those [gay] guys.”
Listen, those guys that we’re talking about were unbelievable teammates. And if you wanted to go to war with someone, you would get those guys first. And everybody in the locker room, the consensus knew or had an idea that things were not exactly right. But guess what? When they strapped the pads on and got on the field, man, we were going to war with these guys because they were unbelievable.
So, who were they?
[Photo: Houston Chronicle]