Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib became the first active player in NFL history to openly identify as gay.
Nassib’s announcement came with a pledge to donate $100,000 to The Trevor Project, a nonprofit group that focuses on suicide prevention efforts within the LGBTQ+ community. The response has been overwhelming after his No. 94 jersey became the highest-selling on Fanatics.
Teammate and quarterback Derek Carr also praised Nassib for coming out and is looking forward to their efforts to win a championship. It appears the support is coming from the top-down in Las Vegas.
Head coach Jon Gruden praised Nassib’s differences as part of what makes him special, via Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
“I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great,” Gruden said.
Team owner Mark Davis also offered up his full support for Nassib.
“These are personal decisions,” Davis said. “It’s 2021 and he’s a Raider. If he’s happy, I’m happy. It takes courage. I thought we got to the point where this wasn’t (a story). It doesn’t change my opinion of him as a man or as a Raider.”
The comments coming from two of the leading figures in the organization hardly comes as any surprise. The Raiders franchise has always been trailblazers throughout the rich history.
They hired Tom Flores to become the NFL’s first Latino head coach, and the move paid major dividends as he managed to lead the team to two Super Bowl titles. Meanwhile, Amy Trask also became the first woman to hold a chief executive position in league history with the team in 1997.
Their praise shows that Nassib’s sexuality will have no standing on his status as a member of this team leading up to the 2021 NFL season. After all, they signed him to a three-year, $25 million deal last offseason to help bolster the pass rush.
This group was once again a major point of focus during the offseason with the arrival of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in free agency and linebacker Malcolm Koonce during the 2021 NFL Draft. Nassib is among those expected to make an impact in their efforts to secure their first trip to the playoffs under Gruden.