The first NFL playoff game with an active LGBTQ+ player is an important milestone squib

The Raiders’ Carl Nassib is proving that coming out is not a distraction to a team or the game and that you can win big when your team can accept and support its players

It is no exaggeration to say the world was watching when Carl Nassib became the first active player on an NFL roster to come out as gay. Some watched with shock, most with support. Still, for many of us, myself included, beyond the celebration of his barrier-breaking announcement, was something deeper behind our attentive gaze, a question: What now?

A couple weeks after the initial media craze, it seemed like business as usual for the Las Vegas Raiders and the sports world as a whole. Only Carl himself will know just how much his announcement tipped the scales of acceptance and bigotry one way or the other in his locker room, on the field, and with peers or fans. As an NFL veteran, I know that most teams will go through collective obstacles, distractions and hard times, and that off-the-field problems or events can affect on-field performance. However, after last Sunday’s playoff clinching performance, we can all proudly say that Carl’s coming out was not one of those things for the Raiders.

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