Out NFL Player Carl Nassib Helps Lead Raiders to Victory

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday September 14, 2021
Originally published on September 14, 2021

Out NFL player Carl Nassib helped lead the Las Vegas Raiders to victory against the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 13 — a triumph beyond just the victory, since Nassib became the first out player to be in a regular-season game, USA Today Sports noted.

Though Nassib has played 74 games and is now starting his sixth season with the NFL, the Monday Night Football match-up "was Nassib's first regular-season game since becoming the NFL's first active, openly gay player," USA Today Sports said, adding, "and he had a starring role."

"With the Raiders and Baltimore Ravens battling it out in overtime," the article said, "Nassib caused a fumble — with a strip-sack of Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson — that set up the Raiders' game-winning touchdown in a thrilling, 33-27 victory."

Nassib's June 21 coming out took the form of an Instagram video in which the player made his disclosure in an almost offhand manner. "I just want to take a quick moment to say that I'm gay," Nassib, who had already joined the Raiders at that point, said. "I just think that representation and visibility are so important."

"I actually hope that, like, one day videos like this and the whole coming-out process are just not necessary," he added.

NBC Sports called it "a sign of progress that when he spoke with reporters afterward," Nassib's being openly gay "wasn't the first thing he was asked about."

The subject did come up later, when Nassib heard about an LGBTQ+ youth who attended the game — the first one he had ever gone to — in a jersey bearing the player's name.

Calling the youth's attendance "amazing," Nassib said that he, himself, had drawn inspiration from "a lot of people...before me in the LGBTQ community that helped me get to where I am. I'm super thankful for that."

NBC Sports recalled how the first openly gay pick for the NFL, Michael Sam, was drafted by the Rams in 2014 but then released before having the chance to play in a regular-season game.

"Sam was the subject of intense media attention as a gay NFL player, but Nassib is getting attention mostly for just being a football player," NBC Sports said.

Nassib himself, however, connected the dots between being the first out NFL player in history to play in a regular-season game and the night's victory. "It was really special," Nassib said. "I'm really happy that we got the win on the day that kind of made a little bit of history which was really nice to do."

Jon Gruden, the Raiders' coach, "praised Nassib's efforts, saying the defensive end 'made a great play,'" The Hill reported. "We're going to need him going forward," Gruden added.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.