Former Redskins Tight End Jerry Smith Profiled on NFL Network’s ‘A Football Life’ Tuesday, January 21 at 9:00 PM ET

Two-Time Pro Bowl Tight End’s Life Detailed

Former Redskins Brig Owens & Calvin Hill, and Friend David Mixner Join ‘A Football Life: Backstory’ at 10:00 PM ET

From 1965-77, Jerry Smith was a two-time Pro Bowl tight end for the Washington Redskins. At the time he retired, Smith held the record for the most touchdown receptions by a tight end in NFL history. Yet off the field, Smith lived with a personal secret he did not publicly share with his teammates.

NFL Network’s two-time Emmy-nominated series A Football Life continues Tuesday, January 21 at 9:00 PM ET with Jerry Smith: A Football Life. The one-hour documentary chronicles the life of Smith, detailing his career with the Redskins, his life as a gay athlete and his death from AIDS.

The following topics are discussed in Jerry Smith: A Football Life:

  • Smith’s successful playing career with the Washington Redskins, in which he retired with the record for the most career touchdowns by a tight end in NFL history
  • His relationship with teammate Dave Kopay during their time with the Redskins and how it later became strained
  • Comments from Redskins teammates on if they were aware of Smith’s sexual preference
  • Journalist Lynn Rosellini’s series in the Washington Star in which Smith anonymously detailed the life of a gay professional athlete
  • His death from AIDS

Emmy-nominated actor from CBS’ The Good Wife, Josh Charles, narrates.

Jerry Smith: A Football Life includes interviews with the following people:

Bonnie Smith-Gilchrist – Jerry’s sister

Ed Smith – Jerry’s brother

Sonny Jurgensen – Hall of Fame Redskins quarterback

Bobby Mitchell – Hall of Fame Redskins wide receiver/running back

Charley Taylor – Hall of Fame Redskins wide receiver; Jerry’s teammate at Arizona State

Chris Hanburger – Hall of Fame Redskins linebacker

Brig Owens – Redskins cornerback; Jerry’s roommate

Dave Kopay – Redskins running back

Larry Brown – Redskins running back

Billy Kilmer – Redskins quarterback

Calvin Hill – Redskins running back

Jean Fugett – Redskins tight end

Bruce Allen – George Allen’s son; current Redskins general manager

Mark Murphy – Redskins safety; current Packers President and CEO

George Solomon Washington Post

Leonard Shapiro Washington Post

Lynn Rosellini Washington Star

David Mixner – Author; friend of Jerry’s; Gay Rights activist

David Maraniss – Vince Lombardi biographer

Provided below are some select quotes from Jerry Smith: A Football Life:

“When you needed a play to be made, you knew you could throw the ball to him and you knew some way, somehow he was going to catch the thing.” – Sonny Jurgensen

“This guy was a tremendous football player. Tough as nails, great hands – just so dependable.” – Bobby Mitchell

“This was really good. At least I was sharing something of myself with someone who is close and understood all that I had been through.” – Dave Kopay on his relationship with teammate Jerry Smith

“He was living in real fear and real scared; really alone and terrified that he was going to lose everything.” – David Mixner

“There was that fear because you don’t want somebody to take away something that you love doing and you love it so much.” – Brig Owens

“I think there was a suspicion but it was not like we were trying to ‘out’ him. It was a different era [in regards to the media].” – Leonard Shapiro

“One of the things I learned is that a person’s sexual preference has nothing to do with their heart.” – Calvin Hill

Following the episode, Jenn Brown hosts A Football Life: Backstory at 10:00 PM ET, a 30-minute show that provides a deeper look into the lives and story of each subject, features interviews with relevant individuals, and includes material that did not make the final edition of the episode. This week, Redskins teammates Brig Owens and Calvin Hill, and Smith’s friend David Mixner join the show.

Viewers will also have the opportunity to interact and offer their thoughts on Twitter by following @NFLNetwork and using the hashtag #AFootballLife.

Viewers can also interact with and follow the series on their phones and tablets with A Football Life Xtra. Located within the new NFL Mobile app, A Football Life Xtra features producer commentary, photos and artifacts from the NFL Films archives, and career stats and unique facts, as well as trivia games and polls on NFL legends. Visit on your mobile device to download NFL Mobile. Additionally, every episode of A Football Life – as well as all NFL Network programming – is streamed live on NFL Mobile from Verizon, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The third season of A Football Life concludes on Wednesday, January 29 at 9:00 PM ET with a profile on Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice.


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