Out of Bounds: Coming Out of Sexual Abuse, Addiction, and My Life of Lies in the NFL Closet
“The former pro footballer’s life story is full of raw vitality that too often found auto-combustive expression before, during, and after his days in the NFL…Blisteringly honest portrait of a man fencing with his self-destructive instincts.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“Only the second NFL player to admit he was gay (a third, Esera Tuaolo, has since made the announcement), Simmons’s confession shocked the sports world. But it is what led up to that show that proves even more shocking. In this gritty, unflinching memoir, Simmons recounts how keeping his sexuality tucked tightly under his football pads steered him into a clandestine life filled with sex, drugs, sex, lies and sex. Unlike recently celebrated and bestselling rehab memoirs, Simmons’s story has no happy ending . . . Simmons has since become the only former NFL player to disclose that he is HIV positive, but his illness has done little to derail his self-destructive lifestyle. Even now, 13 years after that televised confession, he seems strangely proud of his exploits. This memoir may not be a must-own for the casual-or even avid-football fan, but it should be required reading for every nascent professional athlete-as a manual of what not to do.”
– Publisher’s Weekly
“Simmons is particularly harrowing in relating his descent into the grimy life of drug addiction. . . Readers interested in sports or gay biography will get their money’s worth.”
– Library Journal
“Simmons’ tale is not for the faint of heart.”
– The San Diego Union-Tribune
As long as he can remember, Simmons declares, he’s had big appetites. As a kid, he could run and play sports all day long, eat through the table and enjoy sex with both boys and girls. By the time he was a star lineman at Georgia Tech (he would go on to play for the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins), he applied the same verve to booze and drugs. He was circumspect about his sexuality (“if you play things cool and don’t rub people’s faces in your shit, they’ll let you get away with just about anything”), but never honest about it: (“Roz didn’t care about Sheila and Sheila didn’t know about Roz . . . nobody but nobody knew about Joe, so that was perfect.”) The threads of Simmons’s life were woven from strands of deceit and self-delusion. He became addicted to crack, lost his professional football job and everything unraveled. Spending hundreds of dollars on drugs each day was one thing when he was making more than $100,000 a year, something else when he was pulling down $11 an hour as a youth supervisor. Simmons recounts his experiences, which include sexual abuse in his youth, with shuddering candor. He abandoned his child, was in and out of jail for petty crimes committed to support his drug habit and may even have killed a crack dealer who pulled a knife on him (“Maybe the guy walked away from the whole thing, I don’t know.”) You can almost hear the sigh as he writes, “You try and you try,” reflecting on the intense grind of sobriety and relapse, over and again.
***Out of Bounds was nominated for a 2006 Lambda Award.