From NBC Sports:
...Multiple players who played for Vince Lombardi, the legendary former Packers and Redskins coach, say that he knew some of his players were gay, and that not only did he not have a problem with it, but he went out of his way to make sure no one else on his team would make it a problem.
In 1969, Lombardi’s Redskins included a running back named Ray McDonald, who in 1968 had been arrested for having sex with another man in public. In the Lombardi biography When Pride Still Mattered, author David Maraniss writes that Lombardi told his assistants he wanted them to work with McDonald to help him make the team, “And if I hear one of you people make reference to his manhood, you’ll be out of here before your ass hits the ground.”
Lombardi’s daughter Susan told Ian O’Connor of ESPNNewYork.com that her father would have been thrilled to have a player like Jason Collins, the NBA center who publicly revealed this week that he is gay.
“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...”
Lombardi's brother being gay may also have influenced how he treated gay players. He was a man ahead of his time. Lombardi is best known as being the head coach for the Green Bay Packers, which just so happens to be my favourite NFL team. I did not realize that Lombardi was supportive of gay people until long after a became a fan, but this just gives me more reason to love Lombardi and this team. There is a reason the the greatest prize in professional football is the "Lombardi Trophy."