NFL accused of homophobia

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One of only three NFL players to ever publicly reveal his homosexuality says the league discriminated against him by refusing to let him into the Super Bowl earlier this month.

Former New York Giants offensive lineman Roy Simmons said he wasn’t granted media access to the game because he is gay and HIV positive, and because he has said other pro football players are closeted homosexuals.

Mr Simmons told Newsday “I stood outside the (Super Bowl) media centre and watched many past and present football players come in and out. I asked myself, ‘Why me?’ Was it because I’m gay and HIV positive? I was once part of the inner circle – now I’m standing on the outside looking in.”

The sportsman has recruited attorney Gloria Allred, who delivered a letter calling for an investigation to an NFL representative outside the league’s Park Avenue offices yesterday.

Ms Allred says that after her client was told there was no more room in the media centre while other players and celebrities were granted passes even though they applied days later, according to Newsday.

Although Mr Simmons, who played his last NFL game in 1985, was not working for any media outlet, he said former players often watch the Super Bowl from inside the media centre.

If the NFL does not investigate his claim, the former player may consider a discrimination lawsuit against the league, his lawyer said.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said that NFL offices are “literally inundated with last-minute requests for Super Bowl game tickets, party tickets and press credentials like the one made by Roy Simmons.”

He said it was impossible to meet all the requests.

He added the NFL asked Mr Simmons to speak to a group of rookie players earlier this year, evidence, he said, the league doesn’t think of him as an outcast.

But according to Newsday, Mr Simmons maintains that the NFL is extremely homophobic. In his book, Out of Bounds, he wrote that it is more acceptable for a football player to sell drugs or beat his wife than it is for him to be openly gay.

Mr Simmons, 49, is one of three NFL players to come out, joining David Kopay and Esera Tuaolo. All three came out after they had ended their playing careers.

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