Houston sports fans probably best remember the 1993 Oilers team as the last Oilers squad to make the playoffs before the franchise relocated to Tennessee. That 1993 team went 12-4 and made it to a second-round divisional match-up with the Kansas City Chiefs, but lost 28-20.
Houston fans probably also remember a few other things from that season, including it was the last to feature quarterback Warren Moon and defensive tackle Jeff Alm’s suicide. Although, something Houston fans wouldn’t remember–because it wasn’t known until the Houston Chronicle decided to do an upcoming piece on the team–is that two members of the team were openly gay. And everyone knew. And everyone was cool with it.
The Chronicle previewed the story today, which runs in full tomorrow, and included this passage:
“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[…]” said Pro Bowl linebacker Lamar Lathon[…] “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.”
Neither player was mentioned by name in the piece.
Granted, there were probably other gay football players that predated the 1993 Oilers team. However, out teammates at that time – especially in a Bible Belt city – are surprising, especially since NFL players didn’t begin to fully acknowledge gay rights and gay players until recently.
Not surprisingly, the players also weren’t worried about what happened in the locker room after games.
[Cris] Dishman, a two-time Pro Bowler, 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.”