Is Troy Aikman gay?
It's a question that has dogged the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback turned NFL announcer, with unsubstantiated rumors of his sexuality dating back decades. Now, those questions are in the spotlight again as Aikman prepares for this biggest assignment of they year --- Super Bowl 51.
Aikman played in an era when an openly gay player would have been out of the question. While America was growing more accepting in the early to mid 1990s, gay marriage was still illegal and an NFL locker room was not the most accepting place. So instead of openly gay players, there were just rumors targeting some high-profile players, Aikman included.
Today there are still no openly gay players in the NFL, though a handful have come out after their player careers have ended. But the rumors that Troy Aikman might be gay have persisted for more than 20 years now, and are growing more popular as the three-time Super Bowl winner prepares to join the commentator booth for Super Bowl 51.
In its preview of the big game, Outsports noted that the rumors about Aikman's sexuality are still a popular question online.
"'Troy Aikman gay' on a Google search yields 178,000 hits. Aikman has continually denied he is gay, but his longstanding feud with media blowhard Skip Bayless keeps the story in the news," the report noted.
The rumors that Troy Aikman might be gay got a boost last year when commentator and all-around lightning rod Skip Bayless, who wrote a book more than 20 years ago insinuating that Aikman was gay, brought up the rumors again.
Bayless dredged up the rumors in an interview with Michael Tillery of The Starting Five blog. The interview leveled some other major accusations against Troy Aikman, insinuating not only that he was gay but also accusing him of racism and of throwing football games.
[Barry Switzer] challenged some of the other reporters also telling them to tell the truth about Troy and saying he's a hypocrite. He was saying here he is doing all these commercials for Brut cologne and Acme Brick in Dallas … these sorta macho ads … and he is not what he appears to be. It went all the way to the period where I was writing the book and Barry called me one day at home and asked me what's going on. He said he heard I was having trouble with Aikman — which I certainly did because I was trying to write the book. Troy would call me at home saying I can't write this and I can't write that. It really wasn't about the gay stuff. It was about the n word and game throwing. Barry would say he's just afraid you are gonna write the gay stuff. I told Barry I had no idea and nor do I care if he's gay or not. It definitely became part of the clash and mudslinging between the two of them. Again, Barry just went off on this tirade saying many security people have told him about this incident and this and this and this.The accusations still don't sit well with Troy Aikman, who blasted his own network for hiring Skip Bayless last year.
"To say I'm disappointed in the hiring of Skip Bayless would be an enormous understatement," Aikman said via Si.com. "Clearly, [Fox Sports president of national networks] Jamie Horowitz and I have a difference of opinion when it comes to building a successful organization. I believe success is achieved by acquiring and developing talented, respected and credible individuals, none of which applies to Skip Bayless."
But despite shooting them down, the rumors that Troy Aikman might be gay have continued to persist, showing that football is just as much fodder for the rumor mill and tabloid speculation as Hollywood.
[Featured Image by Cindy Ord/Getty Images]