Carl Nassib, the first openly gay active player in the NFL, asked the Raiders for a “personal day” in the face of homophobic emails from Jon Gruden.
Becoming the first person to do something has its rightful place in history, but paving the way for marginalized identities has never been easy.
Fritz Pollard, the first Black quarterback and first Black coach in NFL history, endured racist chants from the crowd while playing for Brown in 1915.
When Sarah Thomas became the first woman to lead the history of NFL gambling sin, the news was met with both cheers and sexist jokes.
When Carl Nassib, the first active NFL player to come out gay, found out that his coach was using homophobic language in private emails, he was on uncharted territory.
It’s no wonder Nassib Raiders general manager Mike Mayock asked for a personal tag, stating that he “had a lot to process” regarding Jon Gruden’s emails.
Carl Nassib asks for personal day after Jon Gruden’s homophobic emails are posted
After a first article in the Wall Street Journal revealed Grudens’ racist comments on DeMaurice Smith, New York Times revealed further insights into the Gruden email scandal.
For over a decade, here are some details of Gruden’s homophobic slurs that the report said targeted various NFL figures:
In the emails, Gruden called the league commissioner Roger Goodell an “f – t” and an “unsuspecting anti-football py” and said Goodell hadn’t pressured Jeff Fisher, then the Rams’ coach are supposed to move in “queers”, an allusion to Michael Sam, a gay player who was selected by the team in 2014.
The Times report showed that homophobic slurs were frequently and casually used in correspondence between Gruden and other high-ranking NFL figures.
When Nassib came out gay in June 2021, he was the first active NFL player to do so – several came out gay after leaving the league. It was a milestone for LGBTQ + athletes, who have long felt social pressures to hide their identities.
Little did Nassib know that the head coach he played for was casually using homophobic slur all along, a language that made it so much harder for athletes to come out.
While other raiders like Derek Carr and Josh Jacobs have expressed empathy for Gruden, his comments are a painful reminder of why gay NFL players struggle to publicly share their authentic selves.