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Raiders’ defensive end Carl Nassib makes history as first active NFL player to come out as gay

Late Raiders owner Al Davis would have been proud of Nassib’s historic announcement on Monday

Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders
Carl Nassib
Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

As I processed Carl Nassib’s amazing, powerful announcement that he is gay, I immediately thought of Al Davis.

Al would be proud today. A player from his beloved Silver and Black made history becoming the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Yes, Michael Sam was drafted in 2014 and he became the first openly gay player to be drafted, but he never played in a regular season NFL game.

Nassib is an established veteran and he is a Las Vegas Raider. Yes, the Raiders are pioneers once again.

In case you missed Monday’s historic news, Nassib made a groundbreaking announcement on Instagram earlier today, which our sister site Outsports first reported.

“What’s up people,” Nassib wrote in his Instagram post. “I’m at my house in West Chester Pennsylvania. I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but finally feel comfortable getting it off my chest. I really have the best life, the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for.

“I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope that one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are not necessary, but until then I will do my best and my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project. They’re an incredible organization, they’re the number one suicide-prevention service for LGBTQ youth in America.”

Al Davis was famous for his inclusion of all people and he was a champion for minority and women in the game. Art Shell was the NFL’s first black head coach. Amy Trask was the NFL’s first woman executive in the game and now Nassib is the first openly gay player in the NFL.

Today is a proud day for the Raider Nation. Honestly, I am thrilled to be writing this post. I’m simply blown away by the guts Nassib has shown the world. Count me in as a Carl Nassib fan forever.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell later expressed his support for Nassib in a statement to Outsports: “The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” Goodell said. “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.”

According to Outsports, 15 players have come out as gay or bi after their careers have ended but none while they’re actively playing in the NFL, so Nassib is a true pioneer and he will forever be remembered for this courageous move. His video was so perfectly done. It was understated and true. You could feel weight of this decision being lifted as he spoke.

His life has forever changed. He will be in the history books and people around the world will now be wearing Carl Nassib’s jersey.

He is a hero. Most importantly, for him, Nassib is finally free.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden told the Las Vegas Review Journal he supports Nassib:

Nassib, 28, is entering his sixth NFL season, his second with the Raiders after stints with the Browns and Buccaneers. He has 20.5 career sacks. He played in college for Penn State.

It’s wonderful that he has the support of the franchise and his teammates. and his teammates who already know and respect him. Football players are supposed to be brave, right? There aren’t many braver acts that can be done that what Nassib just did today.

When Michael Sam was trying to stick in the league, someone close to him told me that he received several calls from players in the NFL who were gay and hadn’t come out. I bet Nassib gets the same response. Perhaps his announcement will inspire other professional athletes to do they same while they are still playing.

This is going to be a major storyline this year and Nassib deserves all the support and respect he can get. The Raiders should be proud of their player. I know Al would be. This continues a great legacy of diversity, barrier breaking and culture change by the team.