NFL players react to Carl Nassib's announcement that he is gay.
Numerous NFL players expressed their support for Carl Nassib on Monday, the day after the Raiders defensive end became the league's first active gay player.
At least two of Nassib's teammates publicly supported him following the historic announcement, which the 28-year-old described as a 15-year "agony."
Darius Stills, the Raiders' rookie defensive tackle, wrote on social media, "Proud of you brotha," while Solomon Thomas, the Raiders' offseason acquisition, penned a similar message.
According to ESPN, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden stated, "I learned a long time ago that what makes a man unique is what makes him great."
The NFL is "proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today," Commissioner Roger Goodell said. We share his hope that, as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community, statements like his will soon cease to be newsworthy.”
Nassib stated that he could not have made his announcement without the support of his coaches, teammates, and other players.
Prior to Nassib, a few NFL players came out as gay, but only after their respective playing careers ended.
Roy Simmons, who spent four seasons in the early 1980s with the Giants and Washington, told the New York Times in 2003 that he didn't come out during his playing days out of fear of jeopardizing his career.
“The NFL has a reputation,” he explained, “and it is not verbal — it is simply known. You are gladiators; you are male; you have a kick in the buttocks.”
Butch Woolfolk, Simmons' Giants teammate, told the newspaper: "You can be a wife beater, use drugs, or get into a car wreck and the team will take care of you." However, if you are gay, it is similar to the military: "Do not ask, do not tell."
Jason Collins came out as gay in 2013 as the first active player in one of the four major professional North American sports.
Nearly a year later, Michael Sam of Missouri came out as gay shortly before being drafted by the Rams in the seventh round of the 2014 draft, and was on track to become the NFL's first openly gay active player.
However, Sam, who was filmed by ESPN kissing his boyfriend following his draft night selection, was cut at the end of training camp, a move the team stated was made strictly for football reasons. He retired a year later, having never appeared in a regular-season game, citing "mental health" concerns.
Nassib has received more support than Sam, as acceptance of the LGBTQ community continues to grow.
Saquon Barkley, the Giants' star running back, tweeted in response to Nassib's announcement, "Much respect, brudda."
“Couldn't be more proud to be your brother,” Nassib's brother Ryan, who spent two seasons with the Giants, wrote on Instagram. Carl, I adore you.”
Nassib is in his sixth season in the league, having previously spent time with the Browns (who selected him in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft) and the Buccaneers.
Nassib, who has 20.5 career sacks, signed a three-year, $25 million contract with the Raiders.
“Congratulations to Carl Nassib for coming out,” a retired three-time Pro Bowler wrote. “I believe that the majority of players are concerned with your ability to play or not.”