NFL

Carl Nassib announcement 'a monumental moment' for NFL, says Ryan Russell

By Sports Desk June 23, 2021

Carl Nassib becoming the first active NFL player to come out as gay is a "historical, monumental moment ", according to Ryan Russell. 

Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Nassib made the announcement via social media in an Instagram post on Monday.

Prior to Nassib making NFL history, Russell had come out as bisexual in 2019 when he was a free agent, while Michael Sam became the first gay player to be drafted in 2014, though he never went on to play a regular season game.

Russell was delighted to see the video from Nassib and has been heartened by the positive reception it has received.

"My initial reaction to Carl's video was just one of celebration and elation," he told Stats Perform.

"[Celebration] not just for him in his own journey and self-love and wellbeing but also for the NFL, and for male professional sports at large because right now actively on a team in the four major sports here in the US, there's no one like him. 

"So a very historical, monumental moment for him and for male professional sports, and also for all the young LGBTQ+ youth and athletes looking up to him now.

"They will be seeing him as representation and seeing themselves having success in the highest field of American football through Carl."
 
Asked how big a step this was, Russell added: "Huge. Like I said, it's a historical landmark, really.

"As our small little LGBTQ+, male professional athlete family grows, we've really been chipping away at this for some time. 

"Ryan O'Callaghan coming out when he was retired, Michael Sam coming out, and being the first openly gay male athlete to be drafted into the NFL, myself coming out as a free agent in the midst of an active career, now Carl coming out while on a roster.

"And I am 100 per cent confident that he will be playing in that first game this season – that will be another huge landmark for him. 

"So this is monumental really for all of us, and especially for him, and for the NFL as well to be on the right side of history, and to show that it is an encouraging and inclusive place for all athletes to succeed and be themselves."

 

Nassib joined the Raiders on a three-year, $25million free-agent deal in 2020, with the 28-year-old having 2.5 sacks and an interception in 14 games – five starts – last season.

He was drafted in the third round by the Cleveland Browns in 2016 and was a popular figure on the documentary 'Hard Knocks' before moving on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018.

Russell, who also played for the Bucs as well as the Dallas Cowboys, believes the days where athletes opt to stay quiet about their sexuality are coming to an end.

He continued: "I think a lot of those things are being taken away in terms of worrying about job security or in terms of being viewed as a distraction in sports. 

"Also the world is changing a lot of ways, the world at large, and people at large, are becoming more accepting - our communities are becoming more diverse.

"So I think it's a mixture of kind of like debunking myths, that we really had no evidence to base it off of, as well as just changing and progressing as a society. Those two things come together to make players feel comfortable. 

"And also, I mean, a credible thing to note, as Carl seemed very relaxed, very nonchalant in his message.

"It didn't seem like it was this big, massive sort of thing that he was fearing would rock his whole world, it was him wanting to come out.

"He wanted to be just his full self, and to also be an visible representation for those who a lot of times have not seen themselves in this league at this level."

Related items

  • Steelers star Watt says 'door open' to face Bengals after groin injury Steelers star Watt says 'door open' to face Bengals after groin injury

    Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt said the door is open for him to face the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3 of the NFL season.

    Watt is listed as questionable for Sunday's clash after injuring his groin in last week's 26-17 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.

    But the three-time Pro Bowler is hopeful of suiting up at home to the Bengals at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

    "Doesn't matter how many reps I get throughout the week," Steelers star Watt said on Friday. "I was able to still run around here and do a lot of things that I need to do to keep the door open for Sunday.

    "I'm excited to get the rest of today and tomorrow to continue to improve my body and see where I'm at on Sunday.

    "... This isn't going around and playing Pee Wee football. This is playing against guys doing this for a living, so trying to be smart.

    "At the same time, knowing your body more than anything. I felt like I did a good amount this week to leave the door open for Sunday."

    Cincinnati ended a 10-game losing streak to Pittsburgh when the Bengals (1-1) beat the Steelers (1-1) 27-17 in Week 15 of last season.

    In the all-time series, the Steelers have 65 wins in their 101 games against the Bengals, which is the most wins by any team against Cincinnati.

    The Steelers, meanwhile, were held to 39 yards rushing in their loss to the Raiders, bringing the team's season rushing total to a league-worst 114 rushing yards.

    Since Mike Tomlin became head coach in 2007, Pittsburgh have been held to under 40 yards rushing in 20 different games with only the Arizona Cardinals having more such games in that span (22).

  • Dak Prescott looking forward to 'special' Cowboys homecoming after injury Dak Prescott looking forward to 'special' Cowboys homecoming after injury
  • Stafford and his strong protection give Rams slight edge in blockbuster Bucs clash Stafford and his strong protection give Rams slight edge in blockbuster Bucs clash

    The third week of the NFL season is not short of enticing matchups.

    A divisional showdown between two high-powered AFC West offenses in the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers headlines the early slate of games, while Sunday's primetime matchup sees a rematch of the NFC Championship Game as the Green Bay Packers visit the 2-0 San Francisco 49ers.

    Sandwiched in between those fascinating contests is an encounter that most will see as the game of the week, one that could have a pivotal impact on the NFC playoff picture come the end of the season, as Tom Brady plays in Los Angeles for the first time in his professional career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers going out west to take on the Rams.

    Beyond being a battle of unbeaten teams, it is an encounter that pits one of the game's most celebrated quarterbacks against one of its most underappreciated, who is thriving in his opening weeks playing for the Rams having been freed from the shackles of a listless Detroit Lions franchise.

    Both Brady and Matthew Stafford have started the season as most expected them to, operating at a level to suggest they can propel their respective teams to deep postseason runs.

    However, they each will take on defenses stacked with the talent to shut down even the most prolific offenses when at their best. It promises to be a tremendous spectacle at SoFi Stadium, one that should provide an early barometer as to who is the class of the NFC.

    Little to separate stellar QBs

    Brady is ancient by NFL standards, but his remarkable longevity has turned the fact he continues to excel at age 44 into old news. Nobody is surprised by his continuing brilliance, which sees him lead the league with nine passing touchdowns in two games, four more than Stafford.

    Yet a man who has turned performing when the pressure is at its highest in the playoffs into an art is essentially neck and neck with a quarterback yet to taste a postseason victory when it comes to accuracy so far this season.

    Stafford has a well-thrown ball percentage of 81.5, putting him just below Brady on 81.7, though it is the former Lion who has the edge when it comes to delivering accurately under pressure.

    The Rams' signal-caller ranks fifth among quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts under duress this season with a well-thrown percentage of 80 when pressured. Brady has a less impressive ratio of 75 per cent, though that is still well above the average of 69.2 per cent.

    Stafford also has a string to his bow that is not a part of Brady's arsenal, as he has settled superbly into Sean McVay's offense and quickly adapted to an attack that consistently relies on the play-action bootleg.

    On his nine throws where he has been on the move, Stafford has produced a well-thrown ball 88.9 per cent of the time, compared to 75 per cent on four such attempts for Brady.

    That difference reflects the contrasts in offensive approach, but the opportunity to get on the move and outside of the pocket gives Stafford a potentially pivotal avenue to avoid an often ferocious Buccaneers defensive front.

    Compelling cases for the defense

    Stafford may find encouragement in that a Buccaneers pass rush that pressured Patrick Mahomes 33 times in their Super Bowl win last season has been, for the most part, held in check through two weeks.

    Edge rusher Shaquil Barrett, who led the Bucs with 13 pressures of Mahomes, has won just 11 of his 44 pass rush attempts so far, according to Stats Perform data. Things have gone even worse for veteran Jason Pierre-Paul with a solitary win on 34 attempts.

    Pierre-Paul's struggles may mean more of rookie Joe Tryon, who has won four of his 12 rushes, but Tampa can at least be fairly confident of pressuring Stafford up the middle, with defensive tackle Vita Vea prevailing on nine of his 25 attempts.

    Despite the lack of pressure, Stafford – who has thrown an interceptable pass on 3.7 per cent of his attempts – must be wary of a defense that has already produced four turnovers, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns, with starting cornerbacks Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean each enjoying strong starts to the campaign. Davis has allowed a receiver to get open on five of his 22 coverage matchups, with Dean (6/21) also proving difficult for pass-catchers to separate from.

    The primary threats on the Rams' defense are easy to identify.

    Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald has won a massive 65.63 per cent of his pass rushes despite being double teamed 19 times.

    Meanwhile, on the back end, cornerback Jalen Ramsey has yet to allow an open receiver in 18 coverage matchups, further illustrating his status as one of the league's most dominant cornerbacks.

    For the Bucs to prevail, Brady must avoid both.

    Stacked supporting casts

    For as much as the two defenses each possess the calibre of player to make a quarterback's life misery, both Brady and Stafford have the luxury of extremely strong offensive lines.

    Indeed, the Rams have allowed only 16 pressures of Stafford this season, the fewest in the NFL. Tampa Bay's offensive line has given up 10 more, yet that still puts the Buccaneers tied fifth in the league.

    And, should the theme of the two O-Lines giving their quarterbacks time continue, Brady and Stafford will have the opportunity to find some excellent pass-catching options.

    Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin has recorded a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted, 88.9 per cent of the time. That is the most among wide receivers with at least 10 targets. His big-play percentage of 46.7 is third among such wideouts.

    Antonio Brown's presence on the reserve/COVID-19 list may see even more targets go to Godwin while tight end Rob Gronkowski should play a featured role with a burn percentage of 84.6 and four touchdowns through two games.

    The change from Jared Goff to Stafford has not changed the identity of the two most important receivers for the Rams.

    Robert Woods' burn percentage of 76.9 is sixth for wideouts with a minimum of 10 targets, and Cooper Kupp's burn yards per target average of 13.94 is second among receivers who have been targeted at least 20 times.

    With two extremely accurate quarterbacks, weapons all over the field and a pair of elite defenses, there is little to choose between two teams that for now appear destined to be playing in January. Home advantage, a Rams offensive line that the numbers suggest is slightly superior to that of Tampa Bay and Stafford's greater mobility tip the scales in Los Angeles' favour on paper. Yet, if there is one player who can redress the balance, it is Brady.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.