- Retired Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jeff Rohrer has announced plans to marry skincare magnate Joshua Ross.
- Rohrer will become the first current or former NFL player to be in a same-sex marriage.
- The former linebacker, 59, played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1982 to 1987.
Retired Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jeff Rohrer has come out as gay and revealed his plans to marry celebrity skincare magnate Joshua Ross.
While Rohrer is not the first former NFL player to reveal he was gay, he will be the first current or former player known to be in a same-sex marriage, according to The New York Times.
“I’ve given at least five people heart attacks with this news,” Rohrer joked to the paper. “But for the most part, many of my closest friends, including some of my former teammates with the Cowboys, could not have been more happy and supportive.”
He and Ross, 36, are getting marred on Sunday at Wattles Mansion Gardens in Los Angeles.
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) November 15, 2018
Rohrer, 59, played with the Cowboys from 1982 to 1987 after playing college ball at Yale.
“If I had told the Dallas Cowboys in the 1980s that I was gay, I would have been cut immediately,” Rohrer told the Times. “It was a different world back then, people didn’t want to hear that.”
Rohrer was previously married to a woman and has two children. The marriage ended in a divorce a decade ago.
He told OutSports that he didn’t have a gay sexual experience until after he was out of the NFL and after his marriage ended – but the secret tormented him.
“So many nights I cried myself to sleep, feeling like I was the Wolfman, or Jekyll and Hyde, or Frankenstein, some kind of monster that only comes out when it’s a full moon, always living in the shadows,” he said.
He and Ross met at a gay bar in West Hollywood a few years ago, when Rohrer wasn’t yet out of the closet.
But now that he’s out and getting married, he said he feels “revived.”
“I feel like I’m 16,” he told OutSports.
The NFL has yet to have a current player say they are gay, but the organization’s former senior Vice President Greg Aiello, who retired earlier this year, said times have changed in the football league.
“While coming out was taboo back in Jeff’s day, the NFL community is now very sensitive about this subject,” he told The Times. “The league office and the teams have done a lot of work to ensure tolerance and inclusion in the workplace. There’s now a lot of sophistication about these kinds of issues.”
Michael Sam became the first gay player when he was drafted by the league in 2014, but he never played a regular-season game.
While the NWHL and WNBA have become huge advocates for LGBTQ rights with several lesbian and bisexual players, there have not been many professional male athletes in the NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS to come out as gay.
Last year, Major League Soccer’s only openly gay player, Robbie Rogers, retired, and former MLB player Billy Bean came out as gay in 1999, years after retiring from the game.