The ’93 Oilers had two openly gay players and nobody cared
In the offseason, NBA Center Jason Collins became what was thought to be the first openly gay professional athlete.
Others soon followed suit and many asked when an openly gay NFL player would come out. Speculation swirled around who could be the first one, and many TMZ style outlets falsely reported that different players were gay.
Come to find out, the NFL has already had some openly gay players, and their teammates didn’t care – in fact, they said they were the toughest dudes on the team.
Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle reports that there were two openly gay players on the 1993 Houston Oilers, and there wasn’t a care in the world.
At least two key members of the tumultuous 1993 Houston Oilers team were gay, former teammates have told the Houston Chronicle.
Not only did the team know about the situation, but players accepted their gay teammates and did not outcast them.
“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. Because I have never seen tougher guys than those guys,” said Pro Bowl linebacker Lamar Lathon, who starred at the University of Houston. “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.”
In April, NBA center Jason Collins became the first active athlete in any of the four major pro sports to declare he was gay. Collins is a free agent and hasn’t played for a team since the 2013-14 season began. No active NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL athlete has ever publicly declared being gay.
The ’93 Oilers, who started out 1-4, came together to win their last 11 games but saw a first-round exit in the playoffs. The Chronicle says that players were more of a family on that team than any other, even though the outside world saw them as a dysfunctional bunch.
“I really enjoyed playing on that team, to be honest with you,” five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Ray Childress said.
To prove how united they were in the face of constant adversity, players confirmed a rumor hinted at during the peak of a turmoil-filled era defined by The Choke and The Punch.
“Everybody knew certain guys (were gay). Everybody speculated and people used to see these two guys come in by themselves. They’d leave at lunchtime and then come back,” Cris Dishman said.
Dishman, a two-time Pro Bowler echoed Lathon’s thoughts, saying the gay players were highly valued on the field and showering with them in the locker room was “no big deal.”
I personally don’t think it’s a big deal and it doesn’t bother me much. Current players have echoed the same sentiments, but others have been very outspoken about it as well.
What do you think? Would you think any different of your favorite player if they came out?
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Down and Distance Editor-in-Chief – Justin Arbogast @NFLGuy_SK