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PASSAGES Gay ex-NFL player Roy Simmons dies
2014-02-26

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Roy Simmons, a former New York Giants offensive lineman who later became the second former player in NFL history to come out as gay, died in his New York home at 57, The New York Daily News reported.

Simmons, the only player in NFL history to acknowledge that he was HIV-positive, was known for his nice demeanor—but was also tortured by his sexuality and struggled for years with substance abuse. Simmons had been hospitalized last November and December with pneumonia.

The Giants drafted Simmons in 1979, but he said in 2006 that he was a regular at wild parties thrown by what he called the team's drug clique, and his play rapidly declined. Then-coach Bill Parcells cut him in 1983; he spent a season with Washington before he retired from the league. When his NFL career ended, he was a homeless prostitute in San Francisco for a time, earning $15 a trick.

In 2006, Simmons also talked with Windy City Times. Promoting his memoir, Out of Bounds: Coming Out of Sexual Abuse, Addiction, and My Life of Lies in the NFL Closet, he said, "The book is about diversity—sexual identity; race; alcohol and drug abuse; wild and crazy nights; and near-deadly times. ... I hope my book can give individuals hope." At the time, he was working as a supervisor at a Long Island ( N.Y. ) drug halfway house.

Simmons is survived by his daughter, Kara Jackson; his grandson, Xavier; and five siblings.


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