The NFL Honors awards ceremony Thursday night honored out player Carl Nassib for making history as the first active NFL athlete to come out.
A speech honoring Nassib by Hall of Famer Michael Irvin declared, “Last year, a one-minute Instagram video had an impact that is impossible to measure. It declared unequivocally that members of the LGBTQ+ community compete at the highest level in the National Football League.”
Nassib came out in an Instagram video last year and also declared he’d be donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project.
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“Years ago, when I learned my brother Vaughn was gay, news like that would have been a ‘stop the presses’ kind of moment,” Irvin continued. “Instead, it was greeted warmly and widely by the NFL family and the world at large.”
Irvin then emphasized the influence Nassib’s coming out had on other athletes.
“We cannot underestimate what that single message meant to countless athletes and other members of the community, who have long hid their true selves out of fear.”
From there, an emotional video played featuring other out athletes and sports professionals discussing Nassib’s impact.
The video also served to promote the work of the Trevor Project, a national suicide prevention organization supporting LGBTQ young people that offers a 24/7 chat, text, and phone hotline for those who are struggling.
“When Carl put out that video as an out proud gay man it got everyone in the football world talking about us, talking about our community, talking about the Trevor Project,” said Sam Rapoport, Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the NFL.
“That dialogue and that representation moved us all a step forward in this country, and we’re all forever grateful to you.”
Though Nassib couldn’t be there that night, some of those featured in the video then appeared on stage to thank him live.
Carl Nassib has impacted and inspired a generation of athletes. ❤️🙌
— NFL (@NFL) February 11, 2022