Before the Super Bowl this year, San Francisco Cornerback Chris Culliver was asked if a gay player would be welcome on the 49ers. “We ain’t got no gay people on the team,” Culliver said. “They gotta get up out here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff . . . Nah, can’t be . . . in the locker room, man.”
Almost 50 years ago, a young tight end named Jerry Smith joined the Washington Redskins. After 13 seasons on the team, Smith retired, but not before making two Pro Bowls, one All-Pro team, and playing in a Super Bowl. He set an NFL record with 60 receiving touchdowns, the most ever by a tight end (that record stood for 26 years). Smith was also gay, something that most of his teammates knew, but didn’t care about.
We interviewed 11 of Smith’s former teammates, plus other media members and family. In this film, we will explore how Jerry Smith’s sexuality was a constant source of fear for him, and how today it is not a concern for his teammates, who respected Jerry because of the person he was and what he could do on the field.
Take a look at this sneak peak:
You can witness the story of this brave man through the eyes of his former friends and colleagues in this edition of A Football Life, Tuesday, January 21st at 9 PM ET, only on NFL Network.