Saturday, February 11, 2006

Out of bounds.....

Former Giants lineman Roy Simmons and celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred want an investigation into whether Simmons was denied access to the Super Bowl media center because he is gay and HIV-positive.

Simmons and Allred held a news conference outside NFL headquarters Thursday before delivering a letter to the league asking it to look into why Simmons wasn't granted a media pass.

Simmons requested a credential for the center Feb. 2, three days before the Super Bowl. He also asked for two tickets for the game, which the Pittsburgh Steelers won 21-10 over the Seattle Seahawks, and a party.

He said he was told there were no more credentials available. But Allred, whose clients have included Scott Peterson's former mistress, Amber Frey, said the NFL indicated that it would give others passes after Simmons asked for one.

Simmons, who also played for the Washington Redskins, said he stood outside the media center in Detroit and watched many past and present football players go in and out.

"I was once part of the inner circle -- now I'm standing on the outside looking in," said Simmons, who also wasn't given passes to the game or the party.

In a letter addressed to NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Allred listed questions she said the NFL should answer, including whether Simmons' request was denied because he no longer fit the image of an NFL player or whether the NFL "is inherently homophobic and prefers that a gay football player remain in the closet."

The NFL said in a statement that people throughout the league are inundated with last-minute requests for Super Bowl game tickets, party invitations and press credentials. An NFL spokesman said some requests are handled by the league and others go through the public relations staff at the media center.

"It is impossible for all of these requests to be met, and there were many people, apart from Mr. Simmons, who were disappointed," the statement said.

It said that "far from being hostile to Mr. Simmons, the last word back to him from our office was to contact us after the Super Bowl about the possibility of speaking to our rookies at their annual June symposium."

Simmons said he never asked for credentials in the past and wanted access to the media center this year to talk about the importance of HIV testing.

Simmons, who played for the Giants from 1979-81 and Redskins in 1983, disclosed that he is gay in 1992. He was the first former NFL player to come out as HIV-positive 10 years later. He now works as a supervisor at a halfway house in Long Island.

NOTE: Roy Simmons book "Out of Bounds" is featured on my sidebar. djm~

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