NFL Honors Carl Nassib, Its First Out Active Player

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday February 14, 2022

The NFL honored its first active out player, Carl Nassib, during its Feb. 10 awards ceremony, The Hill reported.

Carl Nassib has received almost nothing but love and support since he came out last summer and became the NFL's first player to do so while still active.

That support extended to recognition on Feb. 10, during the NFL Honors, an annual league awards ceremony.

"Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin told attendees Las Vegas [Raiders] defensive end Carl Nassib's decision to come out via an Instagram post had an impact that is 'impossible to measure,'" the article detailed, with Irvin going on to note that, "we cannot underestimate what that single message meant to the countless athletes and other members of the community who have long hidden their true selves out of fear."

Nassib made the announcement in a video he posted to Instagram last June 21. "I just want to take a quick moment to say that I'm gay," the player said. "I've been meaning to do this for a while now but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest."

Nassib went on to add, "I'm a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know I'm not doing this for attention, but I think representation matters."

Nassib's embrace of authenticity also "declared unequivocally that members of the LGBTQ community compete at the highest level in the National Football League," Irvin said.

Though Nassib's coming out was almost nonchalant, football fans went wild for him, snatching up the NFL jersey emblazoned with his name and number. Later in the season the player made a fashion statement of his own by wearing rainbow cleats.

In his first game after coming out, Nassib helped lead the Las Vegas Raiders to victory — though the team didn't make it to the Super Bowl, losing last month to one of the teams that did, the Bengals.

Perhaps most notable of all, though, was the way that, after the initial headlines died down, Nassib's sexual orientation faded from the news cycle. What dominated instead were the stories about the strong start the Raiders enjoyed as the season got going.

"Nassib played 13 games in the 2021-2022 season and finished with 18 total tackles and 1.5 sacks," The Hill recounted.

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.