Sports legend Bruce Smith opened up about playing with gay teammates during his beloved time on the Buffalo Bills.

Back in June, Carl Nassib made LGBTQ+ history as the first active NFL player to come out as gay.

Two months after his monumental announcement, the 28-year-old became the first out player to be signed and play in a regular-season game.

But according to Smith, gay athletes have always been present within the NFL.

In an interview with TMZ Sports, Smith praised Nassib for coming out before and revealed that he had gay teammates during his time with the Buffalo Bills.

“I want to commend Carl for having the courage to come out and share with the world that this is who he is,” he said.

“We had a gay player in our locker room,” he explained. “I think it was the mid to late 90s and I think we might have had [two] 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.”

He went on to say that being a good person and winning games were the sole focus during that time.

Even though a gay athlete isn’t new to Smith, he did recognise the significance of Nassib’s coming out and discussed the importance of inclusion.

“Obviously, we like to see the inclusion part,” he explained. “We like to see folks that understand that the world is changing and you have to embrace those that may be a little bit different and it’s okay.”

“Judge me by my character and judge me by the way I treat people. If we show a little bit more love and compassion in the world, this will be a much better place.”

2021 has proven to be a monumental year for LGBTQ+ athletes within the sports industry.

From Nassib and Luke Prokok to Bryan Ruby and Kieran Lovegrove, players are slowly but surely stepping into their truth publicly and proudly.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics also proved to be a game-changer for queer representation, with over 180 openly LGBTQ+ athletes.

According to a report from Openly/Thomson Reuters Foundation, if Team LGBTQ+ competed in this year’s coveted games as a country they would have ranked in seventh place – in front of the Netherlands and behind Australia.


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