Former defensive end Bruce Smith has claimed there were gay players in the NFL in the '90s but they weren't "focused on" it.

It comes after Carl Nassib came out last week, making him the first-ever active NFL player to announce he is gay.

Nassib, who has since received thousands of messages of support, made the announcement in a video on Instagram.

"I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I'm gay," he said, "I've been meaning to do this for a while now but finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest. I really have the best life, I've got the best family, friends, and job a guy can ask for."

"I actually hope that like one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are not necessary, but until then I am gonna do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that's accepting that's compassionate," he continued.

But according to Smith, players coming out as gay in the NFL are not new.

Speaking with TMZ Sports, Smith said they "had a gay player in our locker room" in the 1990s.

"We had a gay player in our locker room. I think it was the mid to late 90s and I think we might have had 2 but that wasn't what we were focused on."

Smith claimed he cared more about whether they were good on the field than about their sexual orientation.

"We were focused on winning games and each and every person that was in that locker room contributing to the goal at hand which was winning football games. None of that other stuff mattered. This was about winning football games and trying to be a good person," he said.

"That's the way it should be, and that's hopefully the way it now will be. Ideally, it won't be a big deal for a player to be openly gay. At some point, hopefully, it will be as normal and nonchalant for players to be gay or straight or whatever label applies to whoever they are.

"Judge me by my character and judge me by the way I treat people. If we show a little bit more love and compassion in the world, this will be a much better place."

The former Buffalo Bills player does however understand the significance of having an openly gay player in the NFL.

"Obviously, we like to see the inclusion part. We like to see folks that understand that the world is changing and you have to embrace those that may be a little bit different and it's okay," he said.