Carl Nassib and Michael Sam Both Made NFL History Coming Out as Gay, But What's the Difference?
Early Monday evening (June 21), Carl Nassib a defensive end of the Las Vegas Raiders came out in an Instagram post, making him the first "active" openly gay NFL player.
“What's up people? I'm at my house here in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just want to take a quick moment to say that I'm gay,” said Nassib in his now viral Instagram video.
Nassib says that he has been meaning to come out publicly, but this was the moment he felt most comfortable.
"I'm a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I'm really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important.”
Concluding his video, Nassib further shares his desires for a more accepting world, so that “coming out” videos aren’t necessary.
“But until then, I'm going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that's accepting, that's compassionate and I'm going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project."
The Trevor Project is the premier organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ teens and young adults.
Nassib also released a written statement where he thanks the NFL, his coaches, and fellow players for their support.
“Lastly, I hope everyone can understand that I am just one person. I am a lanky walk-on who is living his dream. I only have a small window to achieve greatness in my sport and I owe it to my team, coaches and Raider fans to be completely locked in and at my best for the upcoming season. I’m a private person, so I’d ask the media to give me some space as I navigate this exciting time in my life. Please do not take it personally if I decline an interview or am unable to answer your questions. Thank you everyone for your support.”
Though Nassib is being embraced for his courage to come out, some of you may be familiar with a similar story from several years ago. This is because before Carl Nassib, there was Michael Sam.
Three months before the 2014 NFL Draft, the Missouri SEC co-defensive player of the year came out as gay in interviews with ESPN and The New York Times.
“I am an openly, proud gay man,” said Michael Sam.
At the time, Sam was the first out major NFL prospect. After being selected in the 7th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams, he became the first openly gay football player to be drafted by an NFL team.
"I understand how big this is," he said. "It's a big deal. No one has done this before. And it's kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be ... I want to be a football player in the NFL."
Sam also shared that his teammates and coaches of the Missouri Tigers already knew of sexuality.
"I didn't realize how many people actually knew, and I was afraid that someone would tell or leak something out about me," he said. "I want to own my truth. ... No one else should tell my story but me."
Gaye Flashback: Michael Sam Gets Drafted by the Rams
Though celebrated at the time, it was short lived for Sam. In spite of his talent, Michael Sam didn’t make the Rams’ regular-season roster. He later signed and was cut by the Dallas Cowboy practice squad. Sam never played in a regular-season NFL game.
After failing to sign with a NFL team, Sam signed with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League, making him the CFL’s first openly gay player.
According to TMZ, many people wondered if Sam was cut from the NFL because of his sexuality.
He also told TMZ, “I think I was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year last year,” Sam said at the time ... “So, I don’t think it had to do with talent.”
In a 2015 interview on the Dan Patrick show, Patrick asked Michael Sam whether coming out while in college hurt his professional career, “You know what, I’m not going to say if I came out or not ... but, I mean, it probably would have enhanced my, or it probably would have been better for me, if I didn’t come out, I would be on a roster, but, as I said, I have no regrets whatsoever.” he said.
Today, Michael Sam’s name is a part of a similar, yet separate discussion. There are people online who are outraged at the spotlight being given to Carl Nassib after coming out Monday evening.
Nassib’s praise is being attributed to him being a white man and they wonder where this treatment was when Micheal Sam did the same years prior. According to The Black Wall St Times, once news spread about Sam being an openly gay player, backlash and homophobia soon followed.
They also argue that “the NFL and football as a whole have showed us what they deem acceptable has always been heterosexuality and whiteness. Having someone who defects from both of those things immediately puts a target on their back.”
Michael Sam fans also voiced their opinions on the recent Carl Nassib headlines:
However, Michael Sam has spoken out in support of Nassib since his announcement. In a tweet early Tuesday morning, Sam writes, “Carl Nassib thank you for owning your truth and especially your donation to the @TrevorProject. LBGTQ people are more likely to commit suicide than heterosexuals. I hope and pray people will take note to this. Thank you again Carl and look forward to seeing you play on the field.”
Gaye Flashback: Michael Sam Talks Being Treated Once Drafted by the Rams
Gayes, do you think Michael Sam was treated differently than Carl Nassib after coming out as gay? Is race a factor or is it just business?