Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jeff Rohrer will marry boyfriend Joshua Ross in Los Angeles this weekend, becoming the first NFL player known to be part of a same-sex marriage.
But it was a long road to get to this point.
Rohrer was drafted by the Cowboys out of Yale in the second round of the 1982 draft. He remained with the team until his playing career ended after the 1988 season.
Through it all, Rohrer kept his sexuality a secret.
“If I had told the Dallas Cowboys in the 1980s that I was gay, I would have been cut immediately,” he told the New York Times. “It was a different world back then. People didn’t want to hear that.”
Rohrer has two teenage children from his first marriage. He told Outsports that he never had any kind of gay experience during that time or his playing days with the Cowboys.
“So many nights I cried myself to sleep, feeling like I was the Wolfman, or Jekyll and Hyde, or Frankenstein, some kind of monster that only comes out when it’s a full moon, always living in the shadows,” he said.
Rohrer, now 59 and a commercial producer, met Ross, a 36-year-old skin-care expert and aesthetician, three years ago at Tortilla Republic in West Hollywood. At the time, Rohrer told the New York Times, he was still “completely in the closet.”
“And if not for Josh, I’d still be in there,” he said.
Instead, Rohrer is now comfortable being himself, having come out to almost everyone in his life, including several former Cowboys teammates.
”The kindness of my friends and my family and my teammates,” an emotional Rohrer told Outsports, “it’s just been … ridiculous how nice they have been, and how supportive. And how they don’t care about any of that. They just love me, they always have. Nothing’s changed. Nothing’s changed.”