Simmons—who just published his memoirs, Out of Bounds—made the claims at a Thursday press conference with celebrity attorney Gloria Allred. Reportedly, the request for media credentials was made on February 2, three days before the big game. The former lineman for the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins was informed that tickets were no longer available. Allred says that wasn't true—other requests were honored after his was denied. The attorney is demanding an investigation into the affair and presented a letter addressed to NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue that asks if the league "is inherently homophobic and prefers that a gay football player remain in the closet."
Simmons says he stood outside the media center in Detroit and watched many past and present football players come and go. "I was once part of the inner circle—now I'm standing on the outside looking in." Not true, counters the NFL: "Far from being hostile to Mr. Simmons, the last word back to him from our office was to contact us after the Super Bowl about the possibility of speaking to our rookies at their annual June symposium."
In all fairness, securing media credentials for these types events can take days. Or, sometimes, hours. A few years ago at the VMAs, we were credentialed the day of. Another time, at the Grammys, they were held up for days. Also, when reviewing Out of Bounds in December, there was no mention of Simmons ever having attended the big game since he played in Super Bowl XVIII in 1984.
Sure, it's difficult to sometimes gain admission to these events. But the fact remains that Roy Simmons is a former player who went to the Super Bowl and should be afforded the respect of similar teammates. It's highly possible the NFL brass didn't want the specter of an out, gay, HIV+ player at the game—especially one who recently appeared on Howard Stern to announce which players he would "kill, fuck and marry." (None of our choices made his list. How can anyone ignore Tiki, Ronde and Michael Vick?) Simmons says this year he wanted to discuss the importance of HIV testing. Let's hope the NFL will make good on their offer to hold a future symposium.
Simmons on Stern (Outsports)
Previously:Out of Bounds (Rod 2.0) Out of Bounds (Amazon) Black and Gay in the NFL (Keith Boykin)