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Gay ex-NFL player had 'horrendous existence' Published: January 22, 2014

If you grew up near the Washington Beltway, you're likely familiar with former Redskin Jerry Smith. Your age probably determines whether your first memory of Smith is that of a record-setting tight end or a man who died of AIDS at age 43 in 1986, according to USA TODAY.

But if you've never heard of Smith at all, NFL Films is featuring his story for its Emmy-nominated series, "A Football Life," and the documentary premiered Tuesday night on NFL Network and will continue to re-air.

Smith, a two-time Pro Bowler who played from 1965 to 1977, retired with the most touchdown catches in league history for a tight end (60). He was able to achieve notoriety on the field despite the challenges he encountered off it. Jerry Smith was gay.

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