Vince Lombardi: 'Champion of gay athletes'

This week began with NBA player Jason Collins rocking the sports world by announcing he is gay and continued with the unlikely entrance of former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler into the issue.

Now let me pass along Ian O'Connor's well-reported column on Packers Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi, who was decades ahead of his time as "a champion of gay athletes." Lombardi's brother was gay, and during his time with the Washington Redskins in 1969, Lombardi worked with at least five gay men in either the front office or the playing field.

Said Lombardi's daughter, Susan: " "My father was way ahead of his time. He was discriminated against as a dark-skinned Italian American when he was younger, when he felt he was passed up for coaching jobs that he deserved. He felt the pain of discrimination, and so he raised his family to accept everybody, no matter what color they were or whatever their sexual orientation was. I think it's great what Jason Collins did, because it's going to open a lot of doors for people. Without a doubt my father would've embraced him, and would've been very proud of him for coming out."

You can read the entire column over on ESPNNewYork.com.