Carl Nassib comes out on his Instagram page as the first active NFL player to be openly gay.

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Up until Tuesday, Carl Nassib was one of the least likely NFL players to make history. 

He is white, with short hair, a football family and a great college career at Penn State, the university that squelches individuality so much that it doesn’t even allow names on the back of their jerseys. He looks like a dude moving your furniture if you lived in Nebraska. He was known mostly for advising players to invest their money instead of blowing it on bling. 

But Tuesday, everything changed when he announced he was gay. He is the first active NFL player to do so,  forcing him to stand out in a sport that bleeds machismo. Nassib will also donate $100,000 to the Trevor Project, an organization that supports LBGTQ youth and provides a 24-hour sucide hotline. 

“I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest,” Nassib said in his post. “I’m a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know I’m not doing this for attention.”

Instead, he said, he was doing it for representation and visibility, as well as the hope that one day videos like his wouldn’t be necessary.

“But until then, I’m going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate,” he said. 

Retired NBA center Jason Collins was the first active athlete to be openly gay. Michael Sam was the NFL’s first openly gay draft pick in 2014, but he never played a game. Sam thanked Nassib for “owning your truth.”

Nassib not only plays, he’s good enough that the Raiders gave him a $25 million deal, with $16 million of that guaranteed. He is in his second year with Las Vegas and fifth in the NFL. 

The NFL world reacted with overwhelming positivity, at least for now: The NFL tweeted “we are with you Carl,” and the Raiders tweeted “Proud of You, Carl” with a black heart, which in the Raiders Nation is a good thing. The head coach, Jon Gruden, applauded his player’s announcement.

“What makes a man different,” Gruden said, “is what makes him great.” 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVES

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Exactly where does Michael Sam fit into NFL star Carl Nassib’s historic coming out? – Queerty – 6/22/2021
Everyone is celebrating Carl Nassib of the Las Vegas Raiders for being the first active NFL player to come out as gay, but there’s another former openly gay NFL player who some say is being left out of the conversation: Michael Sam.

The quiet bravery of Carl Nassib, the NFL’s first openly gay player – NBC News – 6/22/2021
Queerness is the most socially acceptable it’s ever been, with American support for marriage equality and protections for the LGBTQ+ community at an all-time high. Gen Z is the queerest generation yet, and each time a public figure acknowledges being part of the LGBTQ+ community, the stigma lessens. One place where that has not been true, however, is in the world of men’s sports. Though there are many openly queer women in professional sports, the same cannot be said for men’s sports.

How the NFL is holding up a mirror to American society – CNN – 6/22/2021
The ubiquity of football in the culture – from its stars making TV commercials to its language (“goal-line stand,” “calling an audible,” “Hail Mary,” etc.) infiltrating the vernacular – has long been known and accepted. But in the last few days alone, the culture’s influence on (and resonance within) the NFL has come into especially sharp focus.

Don’t just tell us Carl Nassib helps the Raiders win – Deadspin – 6/22/2021
I haven’t bothered to look, because no one needs to, but I know there’s already the cliche and tired backlash to Carl Nassib’s coming out as gay while an active NFL player (or as ESPN put it, “actively gay”). 

Stephen A. Smith Says Carl Nassib Requiring Bravery to Come Out is an ‘Indictment’ on Society: ‘We’re Still Living Under That Shroud of Cynicism’ – Mediaite – 6/22/2021
“It’s a reminder of the shame that a lot of us should feel for making them feel ashamed or making them feel as if they had to hide who they are,” Smith said Tuesday on First Take. “Really, it’s not just about celebrating [Nassib] for his quote-unquote bravery and courage. It’s an indictment against us as a society for making somebody feel as if bravery and courage is required, just by letting people know who you are and what your sexual orientation may be.”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVES

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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