Jun 15, 2022 - Sports
The first openly gay football player was a Detroit Lion
👋 Hey, it's Sam. Did you know the first NFL player to come out as gay spent the 1968 season in Detroit?
Driving the news: I didn't, but learned about David Kopay during a Detroit Historic Pride walking tour with former city employee Michael Boettcher.
- The gritty fullback played for the 49ers, Lions, Saints, Packers, Raiders and Washington. He took the field with stars like Archie Manning and was coached by Vince Lombardi.
Why it matters: Kopay credits Lions teammate Alex Karras with saving his life while he struggled with his sexuality inside an NFL locker room early in his career.
- "He supported me as a friend. Alex wasn't gay of course, but he was a wonderful, intelligent, smart man," Kopay told the Austin Chronicle in 2013. "Alex's support, it meant everything to me."
Zoom in: Kopay's book, The David Kopay Story, documents his life as a gay man who played nine years in the NFL. It became a New York Times bestseller in 1977.
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