Carl Nassib, the first openly gay active player in the NFL, asked the Raiders for a “personal day” in light of Jon Gruden’s homophobic emails.
Becoming the first person to do something has its rightful place in history, but carving the path for marginalized identities has never been easy.
Fritz Pollard, the first Black quarterback and first Black coach in NFL history, endured racist crowd chants while playing at Brown in 1915.
When Sarah Thomas became the first woman to officiate NFL game sin league history, the news was met with celebration as well as sexist jokes.
So when Carl Nassib, the first active NFL player to come out as gay, found out that his coach used homophobic language in private emails, he found himself in uncharted territory.
It’s no wonder that Nassib asked Raiders general manager Mike Mayock for a personal day, stating that he had “a lot to process” concerning Jon Gruden’s emails.
Carl Nassib asks for personal day following the release of Jon Gruden’s homophobic emails
After an initial Wall Street Journal article revealed Gruden’s racist comments regarding DeMaurice Smith, the New York Times revealed further insight into the Gruden email scandal.
Over a decade, here are some of the details of the homophobic slurs Gruden aimed at various NFL figures, according to the report:
In the emails, Gruden called the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, a “f—-t” and a “clueless anti football p—y” and said that Goodell should not have pressured Jeff Fisher, then the coach of the Rams, to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, a gay player chosen by the team in 2014.
The Times report indicated that homophobic slurs were used frequently and casually in correspondences between Gruden and other high-ranking NFL figures.
When Nassib came out as gay in June 2021, he was the first active NFL player to do so — several have come out as gay after retiring from the league. It was a milestone for LGBTQ+ athletes, who have long felt societal pressure to hide their identities.
Little did Nassib know that this entire time, the head coach he played for casually used a homophobic slur, language which has made it so much more difficult for athletes to come out.
While fellow Raiders like Derek Carr and Josh Jacobs have expressed empathy for Gruden, his comments are a painful reminder of why gay NFL players have struggled to publicly share their authentic selves.