When Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib came out as gay last month, he thanked his “coaches and fellow players for their support.” But the team’s biggest star, quarterback Derek Carr, said he had no idea Nassib was gay.
“At first, I was shocked because I didn’t know,” Carr told Michael Smith and Michael Holley on the “Brothers From Another” podcast. “There was no — he never talked about it to any one of the teammates. His moment was when he grabbed his phone and did it that way [on Instagram]. And I called him. He was working out, so I texted him. And he sent a text right back. And he said, ‘Derek, you have no idea how much it meant to me for you to reach out.’ He said, ‘I was hoping that you would reach out.’ I’ll let his words be his words, but to me I wanted him to know.”
Carr not knowing Nassib was gay is not that surprising. An NFL team has 53 players and like any workplace, some people are closer to some than to others. Plus, Carr plays offense and Nassib plays defense and position players tend to spend the most time with that side of the team.
Despite any surprise, Carr was totally supportive of Nassib coming out.
“I said, ‘Man, bro, I want you to know this.’ I told Carl this, and I’ll share it. I said, ‘Bro, if no one else has your back and no one else will talk to you, I will.’ I said, ‘I love you, Bro. And I’m here for you.’ And he’s like, ‘Thank you, dude.’ And we had a great conversation. So, like, if he comes in the locker room and someone doesn’t agree with him, I was like, ‘That’s OK, as long as you love him. Like, don’t treat him different.’ Like, that’s our brother, bro. We’re trying to win a Super Bowl. We’re trying to help him be the best version of himself.”
There were two things Carr said that struck a bit of an off note.
—”Everyone knows I’m a faithful man. I believe a certain way. That doesn’t change the fact that I love this man. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m [not] gonna treat this guy different. There’s people that think different things about everything. That doesn’t mean I get to treat you different than I treat somebody else. Like, because in this country, we’ve seen that if you don’t agree, you must hate each other.”
Carr seems to imply that his religion disapproves of LGBTQ people, as if “faithful” people would necessarily believe this.
—If you came out and said something about the way you choose to live, someone may not like that, too. He just decided to tell you what’s up, you know? And the thing in a locker is, we don’t care, bro. We’re here to put our arms around everybody. At least the good teams, at least the teams that care about each other. And we’re here to put our arms around each other and help each other be the best versions of themselves. And so when he comes in our locker room, will there be a couple guys? I don’t know. I can’t speak for everybody. But I can speak for the majority of the guys that have been around that we’re gonna wrap around him and say, ‘Bro, give great effort. We’re still gonna demand the excellence in football. Like, how you choose to live your life is how you choose to live your life.”
Using “choice” or “choosing” when discussing LGBTQ people always bugs me, since it’s not a choice. However, Carr gets the benefit of the doubt here. I know a lot of allies who phrase their support in a way that can make me cringe and it’s almost always from a place of ignorance or simply not knowing.
What matters most is that Carr’s support of Nassib is 100% and that’s all anyone can ask.