At least two key members of the tumultuous 1993 Houston Oilers team were gay, former teammates have told the Houston Chronicle.
Not only did the team know about the situation, but players accepted their gay teammates and did not outcast them.
“Listen, those guys that we’re talking about were unbelievable teammates. And if you wanted to go to war with someone, you would get those guys first. Because I have never seen tougher guys than those guys,” said Pro Bowl linebacker Lamar Lathon, who starred at the University of Houston. “And everybody in the locker room, the consensus knew or had an idea that things were not exactly right. But guess what? When they strapped the pads on and got on the field, man, we were going to war with these guys because they were unbelievable.”
In April, NBA center Jason Collins became the first active athlete in any of the four major pro sports to declare he was gay. Collins is a free agent and hasn’t played for a team since the 2013-14 season began. No NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL athlete has ever publicly declared being gay while playing for a team.
A recent NFL Network documentary showed the ’93 Oilers – who started 1-4, won 11 straight but were bounced in their first playoff game – as the most dysfunctional pro football team ever to take the field.
Players supported that general theme during interviews with the Chronicle. But they also insisted the ’93 Oilers were much more of an inclusive family than most have ever given them credit for.
“I really enjoyed playing on that team, to be honest with you,” five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Ray Childress said.
To prove how united they were in the face of constant adversity, players confirmed a rumor hinted at during the peak of a turmoil-filled era defined by The Choke and The Punch.
“Everybody knew certain guys (were gay). Everybody speculated and people used to see these two guys come in by themselves. They’d leave at lunchtime and then come back,” Bubba McDowell said.
McDowell echoed Lathon’s thoughts, saying the gay players were highly valued on the field and showering with them in the locker room was “no big deal.”