Jerry Smith was an All-Pro NFL football player for the Washington Redskins. His anonymous coming as gay led to teammate David Kopay's public coming out, which led to the eventual reality that hundreds of professional athletes are gay, lesbian, bisexual and even transgendered. Smith was a pioneer who didn't even want to be one.
The NFL has produced a series of short documentary segments about Smith's life and legacy as part of their 'A Football Life' series.
A friend posted a link to an article I wrote about Jerry Smith a decade ago. I also included two of his playing cards in Sporting Life, the exhibit I guest-curated for the San Francisco GLBT Historical Society in 2005. Poet and pal Alex Gildzen contextualizes it in his eloquent blog entry.