An impressive and revealing bit of news that broke this weekend.
The coach that may represent the old school as well as anyone, the coach that people may think of first when you think of classic, hard-nose football likely stood up for and protected players he knew was gay.
As written here by Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith, Lombardi may have had two players on his 1969 R*dskins team who had relationships with men, matter of fact a gay relationship may have happened on that team.
This is truly revelatory stuff, as is the apparent motivation for Lombardi to protect and shield players he knew were gay from discrimination and vitriol from the rest of the team — Lombardi’s brother Harold was gay and was out prior to Lombardi’s death in 1970. Over 40 years since his death, one of the great leaders ever in sports sets another standard of leadership for people of today to follow.
Sports enthusiasts have pretty much safely assumed that we’ve all seen pro athletes from past generations who would have broke that barrier of being the first active gay athlete in major pro sports. This story adds unprecedented credence to that theory as well and maybe more of these types of stories will break out as well. It’s never to late to inspire.
Who knows just how down Lombardi was for social progression, but given the absolute fact that there was no way any gay football players would come out in 1969 (some say there’s no way it would happen today, but that can’t be the case anymore after this week), if Lombardi knew he coached gay players then you have to say he handled the situation perfectly — he didn’t position them to stand out in any way, to be any pawns for an agenda of his own or nudged them to reveal themselves. Nor did he treat them better or worse than his other players in any way, he just let them be — once again, a great example for us to follow today.
— Kyle Means, Regal Radio
Follow Kyle on Twitter @Wrk_Wrt