First off, get your mind out of the gutter. This list of 32 gay and other LGBTQ things about the NFL is not a celebration of the hottest players (though Josh Allen is totally cute), nor of all the gay innuendo you can smirk over (tight end, Packers, hitting the hole etc.), nor that football is the ultimate homoerotic ritual.
Nor will I get into the fact that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones likes him some “glory hole.”
Instead, this list is a celebration of the (mostly) good things related to being LGBTQ and the NFL. Some teams have more than one association with LGBTQ issues, but I’ve highlighted one from each.
Buffalo Bills: Hall of Fame defensive lineman Bruce Smith said he played with at least one gay teammate on the Bills.
“We had a gay player in our locker room in the mid to late ‘90s. And I think we might have had two,” he said. “But that wasn’t what we were focused on, we were focused on winning games. And each and every person that was in that locker room contributing to the goal at hand, which was winning football games, none of that other stuff mattered. This was about winning football games and trying to be a good person.”
Miami Dolphins: RaShauna Hamilton, the team’s senior director of community relations and youth programs, is out and proud, having come out during her job interview with the team.
New York Jets: New Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers was a college teammate of Ryan O’Callaghan, who is gay, when both were at Cal. Rodgers was the quarterback and O’Callaghan was one of his offensive linemen. “I’m incredibly proud of him,” Rodgers said after O’Callaghan came out in 2017. “I know he had a lot of fear about it, and how he would be accepted, and how people would change around him.”
New England Patriots: The Patriots told people who were upset at their flying the Pride Flag to shove it.
Baltimore Ravens: Quarterback Lamar Jackson apologized last year after saying on Twitter that a fan who mocked him “eats dick.”
Cincinnati Bengals: Who Dey? A 2022 survey found Bengals fans the most LGBTQ-supportive online.
Cleveland Browns: In 2022, then-fullback Johnny Stanton, who has a gay uncle, talked about being an LGBTQ ally. “No one should feel unwelcome on the field or the court. If just one person being an ally can help them feel more comfortable, then I’m happy to be that person,” he said.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Former Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart in 2021 talked about the impact gay rumors had on him when he played.
Houston Texans: Then-Texans linebacker Connor Barwin wrote passionately about the love for his gay brother and his support for same-sex marriage in 2012, three years before the Supreme Court approved such unions.
Indianapolis Colts: We’ve long written about how former Colts coach Tony Dungy has embraced homophobic and transphobic ideas.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaguars strength coach Kevin Maxen in July became the first out male coach in NFL history.
Tennessee Titans: In 2019, Titans management came out against anti-LGBTQ legislation in the state.
Denver Broncos: At Super Bowl 50, then-kicker Brandon McManus cited gay kids as a reason he founded an anti-bullying campaign.
Kansas City Chiefs: Ryan O’Callaghan, who played for the Chiefs and Patriots and came out as gay after retiring, credits a Chiefs trainer with saving his life in his time of need.
Las Vegas Raiders: In 2021, Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay.
Los Angeles Chargers: The Bolts are a big hit with lesbians.
Dallas Cowboys: Jeff Rohrer, who played linebacker for the Cowboys in the 1980s, came out as gay in 2018.
New York Giants: The Giants are longtime partners with the New York Gay Flag Football League.
Philadelphia Eagles: Nick Foles, who led the Eagles to the Super Bowl in the 2017 season, was long supportive of having a gay teammate.
Washington Commanders: Washington had three gay players at its 1969 training camp — running back Dave Kopay, tight end Jerry Smith and running back Ray McDonald. Kopay in 1975 became the first NFL player to ever come out as gay.
Chicago Bears: Then-Bears running back Jordan Hayward in 2019 was supportive of having a gay teammate.
Detroit Lions: In 2021, newly hired coach Dan Campbell apologized for anti-gay remarks that surfaced from when he was a college student in 1999.
Green Bay Packers: Esera Tuaolo, who played for the Packers, Vikings, Falcons and Jaguars before coming out as gay after retiring, sang the national anthem at Lambeau Field in 2014.
Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings celebrated the marriage of project manager Amy Werdine to her girlfriend in 2020.
Atlanta Falcons: Former Falcons defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo is one of only four gay players to appear in a Super Bowl.
Carolina Panthers: In 2022, the Panthers hired the first trans cheerleader.
New Orleans Saints: Then Saints coach Sean Payton was supportive of Michael Sam when he was the first openly gay player to be drafted in 2014.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In 2019, former Buccaneers defensive lineman R.K. Russell came out as bisexual.
Arizona Cardinals: In 2022, the Cardinals had a member of the Phoenix Gay Flag Football League announce one of the team’s draft choices.
Los Angeles Rams: In 2014, the Rams (then in St. Louis) made history by selecting Michael Sam, who was openly gay.
San Francisco 49ers: In 2020, Katie Sowers became the first openly gay coach to coach in the Super Bowl.
Seattle Seahawks: Martin Jenkins, a member of the California State Supreme Court, is openly gay and attended the Seahawks training camp in 2017.