For defensive ends in the NFL, quarterbacks are the enemy, or at least a target to be sacked. This sentiment holds true even in practice against their own teammates.
But out Las Vegas Raider Carl Nassib knows there’s at least one quarterback who is firmly on his side on and off the field. Starting Raiders quarterback Derek Carr told Michael Smith and Michael Holley on the Brothers From Another podcast that while he was taken by surprise when Nassib came out, he was also one of the first to reach out and let him know he had his back.
"At first, I was shocked because I didn’t know," Carr told Smith and Holley on Brothers From Another. "There was no — he never talked about it to any one of the teammates."
While he was initially surprised, Carr revealed he quickly reached out to Nassib to let him know he had his full support.
"And I called him," Carr continued. "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.'"
Nassib made NFL and professional sports history when he announced he was gay on Instagram last month. He then donated $100,00 to the Trevor Project, the support group for LGBTQ+ struggling with their sexual identities and considering death by suicide, and his donation was quickly matched by the NFL.
The starting quarterback and de facto team leader said he made it clear to Nassib he was going to lead by example for their teammates.
"I said, 'Man, bro, I want you to know this,'" Carr explained. "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.'"
Carr joined a number of active players to show their support for Nassib, along with Julian Edelman, Malcolm Jenkins, Saquon Barley, and others. Some former gay players have so far declined to address the issue, wanting instead to let Nassib tell his own story in the manner he sees fit. Carr echoed that sentiment, but also wanted to make it clear he had was an ally for his teammate.
"I’ll let his words be his words," Carr said of Nassib’s coming out. "But to me I wanted him to know."
The Raiders have been known throughout their storied existence as a hard-hitting team which reflected the attitude of their mercurial and renegade former owner Al Davis. His "just win, baby" approach to football netted three Super Bowl wins in five appearances. He didn’t care what his players did off the field as long as they were ready to win on the field. His teams played hard and tough against their opponent, doing whatever it took to win. It’s an attitude that still exists today as far as Carr is concerned when it comes to his teammate on the other side of the line.
"Like, that's our brother, bro," said Carr. "We’re trying to win a Super Bowl. We're trying to help him be the best version of himself."
Carr's comments about being an ally for Nassib echo a statement he gave to the Las Vegas Review-Journal last month shortly after Nassib's coming out, where he, again, offered love and unwavering support for his newly out teammate.
"I have often said I love my teammates. I mean it," Carr said. "We always say we are a family in that Raider locker room, and we mean that too. I want to win a championship here with Carl and the rest of our teammates."