Welcome to "Gay Founding Fathers," a new series that goes back—sometimes way back—through queer culture to introduce you to gay men who made a difference, made history, made us swoon, and just plain made us be proud to be who we are.
In the past couple of years, we've seen more gay athletes coming out of the closet than ever before (YES!), but only time will tell if sportsmen like Wade Davis, Jason Collins, and Robbie Roberts will be remembered for their achievements on the playing field as much as the moves they made off of it. With football season in full swing, we can't help but recognize one of the golden boys who managed to do both: All-American linebacker Jackie Walker.
Athletically gifted, smart, good looking, and humble to a fault, Walker's greatness was already being predicted when he became the first African American to attend the University of Tennessee on scholarship, in 1970. And the freshman from Knoxville wasted no time in making good on his promise. Despite not being a senior, his teammates elected him captain for the '71 season, making him the first African-American to lead an SEC team, and he shattered a number of NCAA records, including making the most number of career interceptions converted into touchdowns, a title that he still holds to this day.
After completing college as a four-time All-American, Walker was drafted to the San Francisco 49ers and he seemed destined for a bright future in football. But strangely, he was cut from the team before the season even...