Athletes pay tribute to openly gay American footballer Carl Nassib at NFL Honors show

Carl Nassib came out in June 2021, making history as the first active openly gay NFL player.

An image of Carl Nassib who was recognised at the NFL Honors show.
Image: Instagram: @carlnassib

The NFL Honors show took place on Thursday, February 10, where tributes were paid to gay American footballer, Carl Nassib. The Las Vegas Raiders star was recognised for his courage in coming out publicly on June 21, 2021, making history as the first active openly LGBTQ+ player in the National Football League.

Taking place at the YouTube Theater in Inglewood, California, the segment was introduced by NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver, Michael Irvin, who described Nassib’s impact as “impossible to measure”. 

Speaking on the athlete’s coming out video, Irvin said: “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.” 



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A post shared by Carl Nassib (@carlnassib)

Following the introduction, scenes from the show NFL 360 were played, where five LGBTQ+ sportspeople detailed the significance of Nassib’s coming out. Featured in the six-minute segment were Avery Saffold, formerly a defensive back for Amherst College, Ryan O’Callaghan, an ex-NFL offensive tackle, Sam Rapoport, the NFL’s Senior Director for Diversity and Inclusion, Casey Pick from The Trevor Project, and Jake Streder, an offensive guard at Metea Valley High School. 

Not only did they speak about Carl Nassib, but they also spoke about their own experiences of being LGBTQ+, which was broadcasted for audiences of the NFL Honors show. Four of those featured then took the stage following the video, to pay further tribute to to defensive lineman who was not in attendance.

Since coming out, he also made history as the first openly gay NFL player to take to the field, putting in solid performances for the Las Vegas Raiders who finished the season 10-7.

It has not been an entirely smooth ride, however, as in October 2021, it emerged that Nassib’s coach at the time, Jon Gruden, had sent an array of emails between 2011 and 2018 that were peppered with homophobic, sexist and racist language. Gruden resigned as Head Coach following the incident, and Nassib took time off to process the news.

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