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Ex-Oilers: Two gay players accepted by team in 1993

NFL Network's Emmy-nominated series "A Football Life" recently profiled a talented 1993 Houston Oilers team that devolved over a season filled with turmoil, dysfunction and heartbreak.

As it turns out, that checkered season also might have featured a pair of gay teammates. Although the two players never came out of the closet, according to a Thursday story in the Houston Chronicle, it seems that they were not alienated.

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"Listen, those guys that we're talking about were unbelievable teammates," Pro Bowl linebacker Lamar Lathon said, via the Chronicle. "And if you wanted to go to war with someone, you would get those guys first. Because I have never seen tougher guys than those guys.

"And everybody in the locker room, the consensus knew or had an idea that things were not exactly right," Lathon went on. "But guess what? When they strapped the pads on and got on the field, man, we were going to war with these guys because they were unbelievable."

Lathon's use of the phrase "things were not exactly right" belies a more enlightened approach than one might expect from a locker room full of jocks in the early 1990s.

"Everybody knew certain guys (were gay). Everybody speculated and people used to see these two guys come in by themselves," safety Bubba McDowell said. "They'd leave at lunchtime and then come back."

We might never reach the point in which openly gay players are respected in all corners of the locker room. However, it's a promising sign that Lathon and McDowell agree it was "no big deal" to play next to and shower with a pair of gay teammates.

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