On Monday, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib announced that he’s gay, becoming the first active player in the history of the league to do so.
It marked a monumental moment for the sport with a long history of stigmatizing homosexuality on the field and in the locker room. Nassib, a 28-year-old, five-year NFL veteran made his announcement on Instagram, noting that he “agonized over this moment for the last 15 years” and is finally “comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”
NFL, Roger Goodell respond
Not long after his announcement, the NFL expressed its support of Nassib on Twitter with its shield icon emblazoned in the rainbow colors of Pride Month.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell then released a statement praising Nassib for “sharing his truth.”
“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” Goodell said, per the statement. “Representation matters. We share his hope that someday soon statements like his will no longer be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season.”
Raiders, Mark Davis react
The Raiders also announced their support on Twitter.
Raiders owner Mark Davis then expressed his support of Nassib to ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez.
“It’s 2021. All the more power to Carl,” Davis said. “It doesn’t change my opinion of him as a person or as a Raider.”
How did players respond to Nassib’s decision to come out?
Perhaps the biggest stigma in sports regarding homosexuality is based on a fear of how players will react to having a gay teammate in the locker room. The immediate response from NFL players to Nassib’s decision wasn’t overwhelming on Monday. But some current and former players did respond on social media with messages of support, including New York Giants Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley, who played with Nassib at Penn State.
Julian Edelman and Shawne Merriman were among the retired NFL players to express their support.
As did R.K. Russell, who played three seasons in the NFL from 2015-17 and announced in 2019 that he’s bisexual.
Nevada governor Steve Sisolak and retired tennis great Billie Jean King also announced their support.
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