In Memoriam…Roy Simmons

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As has now been reported by several news outlets, Roy Simmons, former offensive lineman for the New York Giants and the second N.F.L. player to publicly announce he was gay, passed away at his home in the Bronx on Thursday, February 20. He was 57 years old.

In the summer of 2004, Damon and Roy collaborated on Roy’s memoir, “Out of Bounds: Coming Out of Sexual Abuse, Addiction, and My Life of Lies in the N.F.L. Closet.” The book offers Roy’s unflinching account of his struggles with addiction, abuse, his sexuality, and how the culture he experienced within the N.F.L. interacted with each. 

“People were always throwing things at me,” Roy told the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch in 2006. “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.”

During an interview with the New York Daily News, also in 2006, Roy said, “In the NFL, there is nothing worse than being gay. You can beat your wife, but you better not be gay.”

Via his Facebook account, Damon recalled “Roy was complicated to work with, charming beyond words, and generous to a fault — one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met . . . I watched him struggle with his addiction — one step forward, two steps back. But for every demon that rode him, he seemed genuinely intent on wooing an angel to give life balance . .. Wishing his family love and strength in this difficult time.”

For additional coverage, please see the following articles from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post.

According to the Times article, Roy is survived by his daughter, Kara Jackson; four brothers, Gary, Larry, Ricky, and LaTawn; his sister, Katherine; and a grandson.