After This Ex-Cowboys Linebacker Came Out As Gay, He Revealed Some Groundbreaking News

Image: YouTube/Shantay Dixon

In recent years, a number of high-profile stars have opened up about their sexuality, revealing their true feelings. Retired American football player Jeff Rohrer was one of them, as he came out as gay in November 2018. However, after breaking the news, he then made another big announcement.

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Born in December 1958, Rohrer grew up in California’s Manhattan Beach, where he showcased some interesting talents as a youngster. Indeed, during his teenage years he began working as a sculptor, alongside playing football at his high school. As he continued to hone his craft, the teenager’s work then started to win awards, proving his talent within the arts sector.

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Following his time at high school, Rohrer attended Yale University, combining his academic studies with the sport he continued to excel in. The future NFL star played for The Yale Bulldogs football team, before graduating in 1982. However, his life changed forever later that year.

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During the 1982 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys picked up Rohrer. From there, he went on to forge his career in the sport as a linebacker, playing for the team until 1989. The California native then retired from football the following year, as he turned his focus back to the arts.

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Alongside that particular passion, Rohrer also became a successful TV commercial producer, with his work earning awards at the Emmys and Cannes. As his career outside football continued to flourish, though, the retired linebacker made a big announcement in November 2018. In an interview with The New York Times, he revealed that he was gay.

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“I’m sure there’s going to be some people out there who have a negative reaction to this,” Rohrer told the paper. “And I’m fine with it. If I had told the Dallas Cowboys in the 1980s that I was gay, I would have been cut immediately. It was a different world back then, people didn’t want to hear that.”

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Indeed, Rohrer might well have faced some unfortunate issues back then if he revealed his sexuality. Greg Aiello, however, insists that things are different now. With that in mind, the NFL’s former senior vice president of communications believes that the sport is better equipped to help players in a similar situation.

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“While coming out was taboo back in Rohrer’s day, the NFL community is now very sensitive about this subject,” Aiello told The New York 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.”

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On that note, Aiello looked back at his own relationship with Rohrer, having worked for the Dallas Cowboys around the time the linebacker was drafted. “[He] was a bright and very personable guy that everyone liked,” the now-retired V.P. added. “People who really know [him] will be happy for him and proud of him for living his truth.”

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Rohrer touched on that latter point when talking about his big reveal, noting some of his acquaintances were taken aback by the announcement. “I’ve given at least five people heart attacks with this news,” the retired linebacker said. “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.”

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However, alongside the announcement regarding Rohrer’s sexuality, the former Cowboy had another piece of news that he wanted to share. In May 2015, he met Josh Ross, the founder of a cosmetics company named SkinLab. Following more than three years together, the 59-year-old revealed that they were getting married in November 2018.

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As a result of the engagement, Rohrer made a bit of history in his old sport. The retired linebacker became the first confirmed player ever in a same-gender marriage. Prior to that, he fathered two teenage children in a previous relationship, before getting a divorce from his then-wife.

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On that note, Rohrer shared some kind words about his future husband. “Josh can be a little bit of a brat sometimes!” he revealed to The New York Times. “But I love him to death. [I was] completely in the closet [when I met him]. If not for Josh, I’d still be in there.”

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Meanwhile, Ross looked back on the day that he first met Rohrer, before revealing what drew him to the 59-year-old. “I see this big, gregarious guy sitting there, though I wasn’t sure if he was gay,” he recalled. “But once we started talking, I realized he was. What attracted me most to [him] was his unselfishness.”

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Outside of the NFL, Rohrer also received a message of goodwill from Billy Bean, a retired baseball player. Now working within the MLB, Bean revealed that he was gay after hanging up the bat in 1999. “It’s hard to explain how damaging the closet can be,” the former Detroit Tiger recalled to The New York Times.

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“I think Rohrer is going to be very happy about his decision to come out,” Bean continued. “I was paralyzed with fear until I stopped living in denial. But once I came out, my relationships with family and friends improved as I no longer had to be guarded around them.”

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Following the announcement, Rohrer then explained his reasoning for not divulging his true feelings sooner. “People are born gay, as I was, though being gay was just something that had no place during the course of my football life,” he said. “But when I got divorced, I said, ‘The hell with it, I’m going to do what I’ve always wanted to do.’”

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“Then I found Josh, and began to openly live the life I was born to live,” Rohrer added. Just a few days after their interview with The New York Times, the pair celebrated their wedding in Los Angeles. With around 150 guests in attendance, they said their vows and then headed off to the reception.

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“I feel so honored that I’m the one he chose,” Ross told People magazine of his new husband. “After all this time, for him to take this big leap — it definitely gives me all the feels. I’m becoming a stepfather to two teenage children, so that’s always very exciting. Life has changed for the better.”

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On that note, Rohrer reflected on what had been a whirlwind few days for him and his partner. “We’re the one for each other,” he told People magazine. “It’s unexpected, but it’s undeniable. And people can see it when they’re around us. We’re in a good place now, and I’m thankful to not have to live in the shadows.”

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