Former NFL player Roy Simmons, who later became the second former player in NFL history to come out as gay, died in his New York home last week at 57. According to the New York Daily News, he had been recently hospitalized with pneumonia and had been HIV positive since 1997.
After playing football at Georgia Tech, Simmons was drafted by the New York Giants in 1979 as an offensive guard. He was eventually cut by the Giants in 1983 by Bill Parcells and moved to the Washington Redskins, as part of their Super Bowl XVIII team. 1984 was his final year in the league.
Simmons (affectionately known as “Sugar Bear because of his smile and personality) was the only player in NFL history to acknowledge that he was HIV positive. In 1992, he announced he was gay on the nationally televised show “Donahue.” At the time, Simmons was the second retired NFL player to come out publicly as a gay man. Despite coming out to the public, the former Giants offensive lineman spent many years masking the turmoil of his sexuality and struggling with substance abuse.