When Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib announced on an Instagram post Monday that he was gay, it was met with a wave of support from those around the league and in the football community.
Penn State coach James Franklin, who coached Nassib with the Nittany Lions, said he was inspired by the $100,000 donation to the Trevor Project, so he and his wife donated $10,000 to the organization.
“Carl’s brave announcement will forge a path for others to be true to their authentic self,” Franklin said in a statement. “I was proud of Carl when he led the country in sacks, but I’m even more proud of him now.”
Current Raiders coach Jon Gruden also voiced his support for his 28-year-old Raiders player.
“I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great,” Gruden said.
Nassib is the NFL’s first openly gay active player, but Michael Sam made history in 2014 when he became the league’s first openly gay draft pick. The Los Angeles Rams’ seventh-round pick played in four exhibition games before being released in the final round of cuts. Sam later joined the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad before being released again more than a month later.
Sam, the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year at Missouri, thanked Nassib for making the announcement.
“Carl Nassib thank you for owning your truth and especially your donation to the Trevor Project,” Sam wrote in a tweet. “LGBT people are more likely to commit suicide than heterosexuals. I hope and pray people will take note to this.”
Former Houston Oilers star quarterback and NFL Hall of Famer Warren Moon shared he had teammates that he played alongside in his career who weren’t ready to share their sexuality.
“I played with several guys who never were comfortable enough to go public,” Moon tweeted in a tweet. “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.”
Current NFL players also took to social media to voice their support for Nassib. New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley wrote “much respect brudda” in a quote retweet of Nassib’s video.
J.J. Watt, the newly-signed Arizona Cardinals defensive end, also retweeted the video with a message for Nassib.
“Good for you Carl,” Watt tweeted. “Glad you feel comfortable enough to share and hopefully someday these types of announcements will no longer be considered breaking news.”
Raiders owner Mark Davis said the announcement won’t change his perception of Nassib.
“It’s 2021,” Davis told ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez. “All the more power to Carl. It doesn’t change my opinion of him as a person or as a Raider.”
Nassib’s announcement was not only noticed in the NFL, but across sports, too. Pittsburgh Penguins team president Brian Burke, who has supported LGBT rights in the past, made a call for other executives to join in support.
“Proud to support Carl and his decision to come out as the first active gay player in the NFL,” Burke tweeted. “I hope other sports executives will join me in publicly expressing their support as well!”