By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com February 26 2014 3:00 PM ET
Former NFL offensive lineman Roy Simmons, who came out several years after retiring from professional football, died in his apartment in the Bronx, N.Y., last week. He was 57.
Simmons, an offensive lineman, played for the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins over the course of four seasons after being a star player at Georgia Tech.
While in the NFL, Simmons said. he abused drugs and alcohol, and during his last game in professional football — the 1984 Super Bowl. when he played for the Redskins — he said he used cocaine the night before, according to The New York Times. He also said, in his autobiography, Out of Bounds, that he freebased cocaine with his teammates.
“People were always throwing things at me,” he said in 2006, according to The Washington Post. “Women threw themselves at me. When I went to a bar, I got complimentary drinks. When I went to the store, I got discounts. All kinds of individuals offered me drugs.”
After a stint with the short-lived U.S. Football League, Simmons moved to San Francisco and was homeless, often resorting to sex work.
Years later, in 1992, Simmons came out on an episode of Phil Donahue's talk show.
“I know I can help stop someone from going through what I went through,” he said in 2006, according to the Post. “I’ve been there. I’ve had two jobs in my life — football and running. Mostly running.”
Five years after publicly coming out, Simmons learned that he was HIV-positive. He reportedly died due to complications related to pneumonia, according to the Times.