They said an openly gay player wouldn’t be accepted in the NFL. They said he would lose the respect of his teammates and be ostracized in the locker room. Coming out would cost him endorsements, and worst of all, maybe even his job.

They were wrong.

Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player ever Monday to publicly come out as gay. And he thanked his teammates for making it happen.

That’s what I would like focus on.

“I am also incredibly thankful for the NFL, my coaches and fellow player for their support,” Nassib wrote in a follow-up post. “I would not have been able to do this without them. From the jump, I was greeted with the utmost respect and acceptance.”

I graduated high school in 2011, and even when I was growing up, I doubted whether there was anybody in the NFL like me.

I remember Troy Aikman’s 20-year grudge against Skip Bayless for spreading unsubstantiated gay rumors about him. I recall Jeff Garcia publicly declaring his heterosexuality to stop homophobic taunts. I was shaking with rage when Chris Culliver declared he wouldn’t accept an openly gay teammate.

But the next year, I also remember Culliver saying he would welcome Michael Sam into the NFL. Jason Collins came out around that time, too, and it seemed like we were at a breaking point.

Then there was nothing for seven years, even as the NFL shield increasingly began to embrace the rainbow. This year, multiple NFL stars, including Rob Gronkowski and DeAndre Hopkins, starred in a video for National Coming Out Day — along with multiple openly gay ex-pros.

Since I started writing for Outsports in January 2020, there has never been a doubt in my mind that an openly gay active NFL player would be widely embraced.

When Nassib made his announcement Monday afternoon, that’s exactly what happened. Here is a sampling of the reaction from around the NFL world, beginning with Raiders owner Mark Davis and his head coach, Jon Gruden:

Mark Davis

“These are personal decisions. It’s 2021, and he’s a Raider,” Davis told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “If he’s happy, I’m happy. It takes courage. I thought we got to the point where this wasn’t [a story]. It doesn’t change my opinion of him as a man or as a Raider.”

Jon Gruden

Roger Goodell

“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” the commissioner told Outsports in a statement. “Representation matters. We share his hope that someday soon statements like his will no longer be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season.”



JJ Watt

Saquon Barkley

Julian Edelman

Derek Carr

“I have often said I love my teammates,” he told reporters. “I mean it. We always say we are a family in that Raider locker room, and we mean that. I want to win a championship here with Carl and the rest of our teammates.”

DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFLPA



Warren Moon

Michael Sam

David Kopay, the first NFL player to ever come out

“Oh shit!,” he told our Jim Buzinski. “That’s really big news. It’s fabulous. This is incredible.”

Shawne Merriman

Raiders lineman Darius Stills

Ryan Russell

Chris Kluwe


Ryan Clark

Nassib also received support from other prominent sports figures, including Billie Jean King and Collin Martin, the only active openly gay pro soccer player in the U.S.

This post will be updated as more reactions come in. Please, send in any that we have missed!

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