Last weekend as numerous NFL games were coming to an end, including the New Orleans Saints closing out a win against the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles, a different kind of football fantasy was playing out.
It was not one taking place on the gridiron or the frozen tundra. Rather, it was one in a terraced garden at a place known as Wattles Mansion.
There were no uniforms, at least not exactly. Instead, there were dark blue tuxedos with white boutonnieres.
The chaffing dishes were not in the owner’s suite, but graced the reception area nonetheless.
This was not a game, but more so something that “the game” stood in the way of for a long time. Retired Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jeff Rohrer finally took the plunge and announced to the world what he and his partner had been waiting for. In doing so, Rohrer became the first ex-NFL player to openly marry another man.
Jeff Rohrer played linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys from 1982 to 1987. Few of his former teammates ever knew that he was gay. In fact, he was always seen with a variety of girlfriends which made everyone this the opposite. Mike Saxon, a punter on those Cowboys teams, was Rohrer’s only former teammate who attended the wedding and one of the few teammates who ever knew his secret. Saxon too felt some guilt because he was one of Rohrer’s former Cowboys teammates who had joked about gay men.
Rohrer, who grew up in Manhattan Beach, California and played at Yale. He never embraced his sexuality until he got divorced eight years ago. He met Ross about three years ago in a bar in West Hollywood.
Rohrer was terrified to let Ross know he had been married to a woman, and even more so that he had two children with her. Ross encouraged Rohrer to introduce him to Rohrer’s ex-wife and children. Rohrer finally agreed to it but feared coming out to his children.
As it turned out, they already knew. And, there were more accepting of it than Rohrer could have expected. For the past year, Rohrer, his ex-wife, their two teenaged children and Rohrer’s new husband lived together in a house in Manhattan Beach.
So, instead of watching Monday night’s epic between the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas Chiefs, the couple was instead boarding a flight to Paris. That is where the first known NFL player to be in a same-sex marriage and his husband had planned to take a two-week honeymoon.
While Rohrer has a tough time coming to grips with it himself, he says he hopes the publicity about the wedding can be of some help. “We love everybody," Rohrer said, “no matter what they think about us."
It is just a matter of time before the next one emerges.