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"He was living in real fear," says Smith's friend, David Mixner, who is also homosexual, "and really alone and terrified that he was gonna lose everything."

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Bowler who played from 1965 to 1977, retired with the most touchdown catches in league history for a tight end (60). He was able to achieve notoriety on the field despite the challenges he encountered off it.

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Smith is a member of the team's ring of honor and still shares Washington's record for most TD catches in a season (12).

"As soon as he retired, then the whispers started," says Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell. "Then we were aware of his persuasion, but we treated him like we did everybody else because he was one of us.".

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´╗┐Gay Redskins TE Jerry Smith coped with 'horrendous existence'

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But Mixner says it wasn't that simple, especially in that era. He contends that though some players might not have cared about Smith's private life, others would have oppressed him and ensured he lost his job had he come out.

Mixner adds: "It's real important not to look back on this with 2013 eyes. This was a horrendous existence."

Jerry Smith was gay.

Hall of Fame wideout Charley Taylor even suggests Washington had a reputation as a haven for gay players, and that there might have been as many as a dozen on the roster at one point.

"We didn't worry about that," said Taylor, a friend of Smith's and teammate going back to their days at Arizona State in the 1960s.

But if you've never heard of Smith at all, NFL Films is featuring his story for its Emmy Black Converse Womens Amazon

"He knew I was aware."

So was running back Dave Kopay, who came out of the closet after his career ended in 1972. He also wrote an autobiography and talked about a sexual encounter with Smith, though Kopay used an alias for his ex teammate. But Smith, who always guarded his private life, would never speak to Kopay again.

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"If people knew, they probably didnt talk about it," says former Redskins defensive back Brig Owens, who was also Smith's roommate. "There was that fear, because you didn't want someone to take away something you loved.

The closest Smith ever came to revealing himself was in a story for The Wasington Star. But he insisted on being quoted anonymously and refused to be identified by his position or as a member of the Redskins.

Former Redskins interviewed by NFL Films all laud Smith as an ideal teammate.

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If you grew up near the Washington Beltway, you're likely familiar with former Redskin Jerry Smith. Your age probably determines whether your first memory of Smith is that of a record setting tight end or a man who died of AIDS at age 43 in 1986.

No openly gay player has played in the league, though several have discussed their orientation upon retirement. Smith's brother, Ed, says Jerry Smith didn't reveal his homosexuality to teammates.

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A Football Life, and the documentary premiered Tuesday night on NFL Network and will continue Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Dainty Ox Shoes White to re air.

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He died Oct. 15, 1986, nine years after his final NFL game.

Smith, a two time Pro Converse Shoe Laces Black

Smith loved playing for Vince Lombardi, who had a gay brother and demanded an atmosphere of tolerance in the locker room. Smith was also a favorite of subsequent coach George Allen, even though he reduced Smith's role as a receiver and used him more as a blocker.

But some were cognizant of Smith's secret while others suspected it.

In retirement, Smith contracted AIDS, a virtual death sentence in the 1980s. He discussed his battle with the disease in The Washington Post but wouldn't reveal how he contracted it.

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