NFL pocket book: Carl Nassib turns into league’s first lively participant to come back out as homosexual
Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib announced Monday on Instagram that he is gay, making him the first active player to come out in the NFL.
“What’s up, people. I’m Carl Nassib. I’m at my house here in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Nassib said in a video message. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.
“I really have the best life. I got 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 really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important.”
Nassib, 28, added that he hopes the “coming-out process” is no longer necessary in the future and that he will donate $100,000 to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit that aims to prevent suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youths.
In a written message that followed the video, Nassib said he “agonized over this moment for the last 15 years” and only recently decided to make a public announcement, thanks to the support of family and friends.
Nassib also thanked the NFL, his coaches and fellow players, some of whom commented on his announcement online. New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who played with Nassib at Penn State, tweeted, “Much respect brudda.” While on NFL Network, former Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall said he’s “extremely proud of Carl.”
“I don’t know Carl,” Hall added, “but for him to unveil himself to the world the way he did, I mean, it takes courage. It takes so much strength.”
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) also issued a statement of support for Nassib. Its president and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, declared his coming out a “historic reflection of the growing state of LGBTQ visibility and inclusion in the world of professional sports.”
“As an accomplished athlete who is now the first out gay active player in the NFL, Carl Nassib’s story will not only have a profound impact on the future of LGBTQ visibility and acceptance in sports, but sends a strong message to so many LGBTQ people, especially youth, that they too can one day grow up to be and succeed as a professional athlete like him,” Ellis said.
The Raiders showed their support, writing, “Proud of you, Carl,” on their repost of Nassib’s message on Twitter and adding a black heart emoji.
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, tweeted: “Our union supports Carl and his work with the Trevor Project is proof that he – like our membership – is about making his community and this world a better place not for themselves, but for others.”
Nassib is a sixth-year pro who was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2016 in the third round (65th overall) out of Penn State. He played two seasons for the Browns and two for Tampa Bay before joining the Raiders in 2020. He has 20 1/2 sacks in 73 career games.
More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over. Former University of Missouri defensive star Michael Sam was the first openly gay football player ever selected in the NFL draft, going in the seventh round to the then-St. Louis Rams in 2014. But he never made the final roster and retired in 2015 having never played in an NFL regular-season game.
In a post saying he was proud of Nassib, Hall of Famer Warren Moon said he played with several gay football players in a storied pro career that spanned from 1978 to 2000 but none were “comfortable enough to go public.”
“They were great teammates, & obviously very talented. As long as they helped us win and were great teammates, their sexual preference was never a issue,” Moon wrote. “We live in a different time now where diversity is much more accepted. Cheers Carl, and I hope this lets other athletes know, its OK to say who you are…”
Nassib indicated he would decline additional interviews, asking instead for privacy.
“Lastly, I hope everyone can understand that I am just one person,” he wrote. “I am a lanky walk-on who is living his dream. I only have a small window to achieve greatness in my sport and I owe it to my team, coaches, and Raider fans to be completely locked in and at my best for the upcoming season.”
The 6-foot-7 Nassib won the 2015 Lombardi Award, given to the nation’s best college linemen or linebacker, during his lone season as a starter at Penn State.
PATRIOTS: New England is expected to sign veteran wide receiver Devin Ross, who was already in Foxborough for a tryout and held his own practices that were open to the media.
Now 25 years old, Ross spent time on the Patriots practice squad last season and made previous stops in Philadelphia and Tennessee. It was first reported by ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
Wide receiver will be one of the most competitive spots on the roster when training camp opens. Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski are expected to be locks, but there will be plenty of competition for the fifth spot. N’Keal Harry is probably the favorite because of his first-round pedigree, but Isaiah Zuber, Kristan Wilkerson, Marvin Hall, Tre Nixon, Devin Smith, and now Ross will all be vying for that role, too.
“All hard workers, man. A lot of us have been here from the jump,” Bourne said after OTAs. “Just to see who I’m going to be with for the year is awesome. They all work hard. They all have good energy also. We’re here to build a brotherhood. It’s a competition, but we still help each other. We still are here to win. So it’s not about being down on anybody, tearing anybody down, we’re all working together for a common goal. So the room has been very fun already.”
• Running back Brandon Bolden has spent his entire eight-year career with AFC East teams, playing for the Patriots and Dolphins and has worn No. 38 each season.
When Bolden, who opted out of last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he takes the field this fall, he will have a new number: 25. The reason for the change? He’s honoring his grandfather, Frank Pitts, who was a receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1965-70.
Bolden shared his reason on Instagram: “So yesterday I was ask ‘Why I changed my number’. Well long story short my Grandfather wore it for 11 years and I thought it would be best that he at least saw his oldest grandson play in the same number he played in, even though it’s the NFL now and not the AFL he remembers”
Pitts, who is now 77 years old, caught three passes for 33 yards and rushed three times for 37 yards in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV victory over the Minnesota Vikings. He was also part of the Super Bowl I team that lost to the Packers.
After leaving the Chiefs, Pitts played three seasons for the Browns and one with the Raiders.
CHIEFS: Defensive end Frank Clark was arrested Sunday night in Los Angeles after officers discovered an Uzi firearm in his vehicle, according to the L.A. Police Department.
Clark was pulled over for a vehicle code violation at Grand Avenue and Adams Boulevard in Los Angeles, at which point officers noticed the firearm sticking out from a bag in his vehicle, LAPD spokesperson Tony Im said.
Clark, 28, is entering his third year with the Chiefs. He was charged with possession of a concealed firearm in a vehicle under California law. Clark posted $35,000 bond and was released, according to a spokesperson from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
VIKINGS: Minnesota rookie defensive tackle Jalen Twyman is recovering from four gunshot wounds that caused scary but superficial injuries after bullets hit a vehicle he was riding in, his agent Drew Rosenhaus said Monday night.
Twyman does not need surgery and is expected to make a full recovery from the exit wounds to his arm, shoulder, buttocks and leg, according to Rosenhaus. The Vikings also confirmed the shooting, after being in contact with Twyman and family members.
“We are extremely thankful Jaylen is expected to make a full recovery,” the team’s statement said.
Twyman was selected in the sixth round out of Pittsburgh in the NFL draft two months ago. The incident occurred in his native Washington, D.C., where Twyman was visiting during the team’s summer break. Rosenhaus said Twyman was simply in the “wrong place, wrong time.” Washington TV station WUSA reported that two other men also had nonfatal wounds from the shooting.
Twyman was the 199th overall pick, after opting out of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season with an eye toward providing financial help for his mother and brothers. The 6-foot-1, 301-pound Twyman, was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection in 2019 after becoming Pittsburgh’s first interior lineman to lead the team in sacks (10 1/2) since Aaron Donald in 2013. Donald, the six-time All-Pro for the Los Angeles Rams, has become a mentor to Twyman.
GIANTS: Eli Manning has a new job. The two-time Super Bowl MVP is rejoining the organization to work in business opportunities and fan initiatives. The Giants announced the hiring Monday, roughly 18 months after Manning retired following the 2019 season.
Manning, who set most of the Giants passing records, will help with initiatives stretching across business development, marketing and community and corporate relations. He will also collaborate on original content development and fan engagement activations, including a new lifestyle series premiering this fall.
Manning played a Giants-record 236 regular-season games – plus 12 more in the playoffs – without ever missing one because of an injury.
BILLS: Welcome back, Bills Mafia.
The Buffalo Bills received the green light from state health officials to return to full capacity for home games this season, the team announced Monday. Vaccinated and unvaccinated fans will be allowed to attend, though unvaccinated ones will be required to wear masks under guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The coronavirus pandemic led to Buffalo playing home games in an empty stadium during the regular season last year. The rules were loosened to allow about 6,700 fans – about 10% of the stadium’s capacity – to attend the Bills’ two home playoff games in January.
CARDINALS: Zaven Collins, a first-round draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals, was arrested over the weekend for reckless driving and excessive speeding. Scottsdale, Arizona, police said Monday that Collins was pulled over around 10 a.m. Sunday for allegedly driving 76 mph in a 35 mph zone. Police said Collins was booked and released later in the day.
Collins, a 22-year-old linebacker, was taken by the Cardinals with the 16th overall pick in this year’s draft out of Tulsa. Arizona Coach Kliff Kingsbury has said he expects Collins to be a big piece of the defense from the opening game, teaming with second-year linebacker Isaiah Simmons to form a youthful core.
Collins signed a reported four-year, $14.7 million contract on June 8 with an $8 million signing bonus. The Cardinals didn’t immediately have comment when contacted on Monday.
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Patriots notebook: Hightower never considered retirement while opting out last season