Raiders Carl Nassib Announces He’s Gay, an N.F.L. First . Carl Nassib, a defensive lineman for the Raiders, became the first active N.F.L. player to announce his homosexuality on Monday openly. “I just wanted to take a brief minute to declare that I’m gay,” Nassib said in an Instagram video. In the same article, he added, “Sadly, I have anguished about this moment for the previous 15 years.”
Nassib, a five-year N.F.L. veteran who formerly played for the Cleveland Browns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, stated that he was now “comfortable getting everything off my chest.” Nassib, 28, expressed gratitude to his coaches, teammates, and the National Football League for their support.
“I couldn’t do it without them,” he stated in an Instagram post.
Commissioner Roger Goodell stated in a statement Monday that he was “proud of Carl for boldly speaking his truth today.” Representation is important. We share his hope that, as we progress toward complete equality for the LGBTQ+ community, remarks like his will no longer be noteworthy. We wish Carl all the best for the next season.”
The Raiders promptly expressed their support for Nassib’s declaration, stating “proud of you, Carl” in a tweet that contained his initial message.
Nassib made his declaration during Pride Month, which is held in June. He stated that he would contribute $100,000 to The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization that works to prevent suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning adolescents.
Michael Sam, a defensive lineman who attended the University of Missouri, came out as homosexual before being drafted in the seventh round in 2014. Sam was released by the Rams, who were headquartered in St. Louis at the time, after training camp. He was signed to the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad, although he never appeared in a regular-season game.
Sam’s draught status was viewed as a litmus test for whether the N.F.L. was ready to embrace an out homosexual player, especially after the N.B.A. overcame that barrier in February 2014, when Jason Collins joined the Nets.
Sam, on the other hand, left the N.F.L. without making an impact on the field.
Nassib, on the other hand, has already played for three teams in five seasons and is under contract through 2022. He attended Penn State and was chosen in the third round by the Browns in 2016. He spent two seasons in Cleveland before moving on to Tampa for two more. In March 2020, the Raiders signed him to a three-year, $25 million contract. During his career, he has amassed 20.5 sacks.
A few N.F.L. players have come out as homosexual, but all of them did so after their careers were ended. In 1975, three years after retiring, David Kopay became the first pro football player to come out as gay openly. In the 1960s and 1970s, he played for the San Francisco 49ers and four other teams, and he has since become an activist and spokesperson for the Gay Games, a quadrennial athletic event.
Roy Simmons was the second former player to come out as homosexual, doing so after his career with the New York Giants and the Washington Football Team ended in 1992. He later revealed he had H.I.V. and died in 2014 from pneumonia-related complications at the age of 57.
In a hypermasculine sport like football, athletes like Simmons claimed they felt they had no choice but to conceal their sexual orientation while on the field. Simmons stated that he had a reputation for being the party’s life and that he had to separate his football life from his personal life.
Simmons also stated that he would never have outed himself, as a homosexual, during his four seasons in the N.F.L. for fear of jeopardizing his career. He said in 2003, “The N.F.L. has a reputation, and it’s not even a verbal thing, it’s just known. You are gladiators, you are male, and you kick butt.”
Sam’s declaration was unusual in that it occurred before he was drafted. Former N.F.L. players like Brendon Ayanbadejo, who played for the Baltimore Ravens, advocated for same-sex marriage and homosexual rights, as well as Sam. However, few current players have publicly expressed their support for him.
Seven years after Sam’s statement, Nassib has received enthusiastic public backing from both the league and the Raiders, a franchise that previously made significant football appointments.
Tom Flores, a Mexican-American, was the N.F.L.’s first Latino head coach, leading the club to Super Bowl victories in 1981 and 1983. Amy Trask became the Raiders’ C.E.O. in 1997, making her the N.F.L.’s first female C.E.O. When the Raiders were in the A.F.L., they chose Eldridge Dickey, the first Black quarterback taken in the first round.
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