Jeff Rohrer played eight seasons in the NFL as a hard-hitting linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, where he racked up enough tackles and forced fumbles to be among the top defensive players on the team for several years. His work ethic endeared him to his teammates, who still speak highly of him to this day.
But amidst all the glory, and in spite of the family life he was able to build with his wife Heather and their two children, he was running from something he couldn’t admit even to himself: that he was gay.
After much soul-searching, and meeting a man who would not only accept him for who he was but push him to express that to the world, Rohrer was at last able to face his authentic self, publicly coming out as gay last year. That announcement, in November 2018, included yet another: that he would marry his partner of two years, Joshua, making him the first former NFL player in a same-sex marriage.
NFL Films has produced a feature on Jeff and Joshua Ross, detailing a journey full of hard work, dedication, love, and respect that will appeal to football fans and non-sporty folks alike.
“The attention that we’ve gotten as a family, and me especially as being the first NFL player to be in a same-sex marriage, was totally unexpected,” Rohrer says in the film. “A football player that actually got married to a same-sex [partner] was a big deal.”
“It’s a life lesson, for sure,” he says of the experience of coming out. “My life has taken a lot of turns, and this was certainly a doozy, but I’m glad I did it.”
NFL Films Presents: A Modern Family & Football will air on Fox Sports 1 tonight, December 6, at 6pm ET. You can also watch it in its entirety below.