This account of an affair between two men who played together on the Washington Redskins in the late '60s/early '70s is heartbreaking. It comes from the NFL Network's episode of A Football Life profiling player Jerry Smith, who remained publicly closeted for his entire life (Smith died of AIDS in 1986).

As his one-time lover and teammate David Kopay explains, "I thought this was really good. At least I was sharing something of myself with someone who's close and understood all that I had been through and understood so much of what we hoped for would come. And that's where we left it." Kopay came out post-retirement as a result of a Washington Star piece anonymously chronicling Smith's hardship as a secretly gay NFL player.

Also included in the video above are reflections of more of Smith's teammates on whether they knew about his sexuality, a general survey of homophobia in the NFL way back then, and an account of Redskins head coach Vince Lombardi's outspoken intolerance for homophobia. The whole special, which you can watch parts of here, was fascinating. It's particularly relevant in light of Aaron Rodgers' recent scandal, Chris Kluwe's allegations that homophobia led to his firing, and that to this day, there is no out NFL player. You can be damn sure there are gay ones, though.


This clip of Calvin Hill, another former teammate of Smith's, from a post-show roundtable explains how important and helpful it would be for someone in the NFL to come out.