Former NY Giant Roy Simmons, Second Openly Gay NFL Player, Dies At 57

26simmons-1-master675Roy Simmons, a former NY Giants lineman who became the second NFL player to come out as gay after his career ended in 1992, and the first NFL player to come out as HIV+, has died at the age of 57.

The Post reports he “quietly died in a chair in his Bronx apartment” last Thursday, and that he was recently hospitalized with pneumonia. “I guess he’s at peace now,” longtime friend James Hester said.

Simmons told the New York Times in 2003 that he didn’t come out at the height of his career in the NFL because he feared the potential negative consequences. He later told the NY Daily News in 2006 that “in the NFL, there is nothing worse than being gay. You can beat your wife, but you better not be gay.”

When he finally did come out on an episode of Donahue, Simmons’ friends and family were reportedly stunned.

The Post reports:

Friends, family members, and a former girlfriend attending the Donahue show with Simmons were all stunned by the news. He had several girlfriends and was the father of a baby. But by then his life had spiraled into a decay of crack addiction, alcoholism and promiscuity.

In his autobiography, “Out of Bounds: Coming out of Sexual Abuse, Addiction, and My Life of Lies in the NFL Closet,” Simmons detailed his life of sex parties, drug abuse and dressing in drag.

Simmons would later say many of his problems stemmed from being raped at age 10 by a neighbor in rural Savannah, Ga.

“I think that through the years there was a lot of confusion brought about in my life due to the rape,” he told the 700 Club. “It led me in areas where I cared not go. But I went there.”

“At no time has he ever shied away from being who he was,” Roy’s brother, Gary Simmons told the Times. “Those who knew Roy know where he stood. Roy was a gay black man who came out of the South.”

Rest in peace, Roy.

[Photo: NY Times]