Lombardi: A champion of gay rights
In 1969, the year before his death, the only year he coached the Redskins, Lombardi worked with at least five gay men—three players and two front-office executives, including David Slattery, who would come out in 1993. In his defining biography, “When Pride Still Mattered,” author David Maraniss described the scene of Lombardi charging an assistant to work with one of the gay players, a struggling back named Ray McDonald. “And if I hear one of you people make reference to his manhood,” Lombardi is quoted as saying, “you’ll be out of here before your ass hits the ground.”
“My father was way ahead of his time,” Susan Lombardi said. “He was discriminated against as a dark-skinned Italian American when he was younger, when he felt he was passed up for coaching jobs that he deserved. He felt the pain of discrimination, and so he raised his family to accept everybody, no matter what color they were or whatever their sexual orientation was. I think it’s great what Jason Collins did, because it’s going to open a lot of doors for people. Without a doubt my father would’ve embraced him, and would’ve been very proud of him for coming out.”
This news about Lombardi isn't new, but given the current state of affairs in professional athletics, it was bound to "come out" again.
It's quite evident from the reaction to the news of Jason Collins that we're going to see more than one NFL player out before too long--I give six months, at a maximum.