Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib took part in his first press conference on Friday since becoming the first active, out gay football player signed to a regular-season roster in NFL history, and he discussed the mantle of being the first, as well as the reception he’s received from his teammates and the public.
"First couple of days, being out, the only out player, my body felt like Jell-O," Nassib admitted. “I was very anxious. But now, I just wanted to get this [press conference] over with, wanted to move on."
Despite the historic nature of his coming out, Nassib said he was "definitely surprised by the big reaction."
"It was incredible," he said. "I thought nobody would care. But it was just such a good feeling to have all that support. I was glad to do my part to help bring visibility and representation to my community.”
He went on to say he had "zero stress" about the reception from his teammates and coaches, saying "We've got a great locker room, great teammates. I've been met with nothing but love and support. It has been incredible. Football players get a bad wrap. But we're humble, hard-working, accepting people. This was a great example of that."
Quarterback and teammate David Carr said he quickly reached out to Nassib to give his support to the d-lineman, and Nassib was clearly grateful for the effort.
"And I called him," Carr said last month. "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 is entering his second season with the Raiders and his sixth in the league after being selected by the Cleveland Browns in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He played two years with the Browns before being released and signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He then signed a 3-year $25 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020.
His announcement in June for Pride Month that he was gay set off an explosion of public interest and media coverage of the revelation, the first of its kind for an active NFL player expected to make a regular season roster. Previously Michael Sam and Ryan Russell had come out as LGBTQ+, but Sam did not make an active regular season NFL roster and Russell came out as bi after he was injured and unsigned by a team.
Nassib also touched on his efforts to bring awareness and support to The Trevor Project when he came out. He donated $100,000 to the advocacy and support organization for LGBTQ+ youth at risk for death by suicide, and his donation was quickly matched by the NFL.
"I’m glad The Trevor Project got so much love and support through just a 60-second video," Nassib said, adding. "Gotta give a huge thanks to the NFL, Raiders, everybody who supported them, supported men. It’s been great."
For now, Nassib said he’s focused on the upcoming season and is enjoying life as an out player.
"I’ve literally the best life that I could ask for," Nassib humbly noted.