NASSIB COMES OUT
“What’s up people. I’m at my house in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but finally feel comfortable getting it off my chest. I really have the best life, the best family, friends, and job a guy can ask for.
“I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope that one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are not necessary, but until then I will do my best and my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project. They’re an incredible organization, they’re the No. 1 suicide-prevention service for LGBTQ youth in America.”
—Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib made NFL history as the first active player to come out as gay via a casual backyard video posted to his Instagram.
“Hey everyone, happy Pride Month. Right now, I am sitting in a moment of gratitude and relief. Sadly, I have agonized over this moment for the last 15 years. Only until recently, thanks to my family and friends, especially Conor, Cason, and Francis, did it seem possible for me to say publicly and proudly that I’m gay. I am also incredibly thankful for the NFL, my coaches, and fellow players for their support. I would not have been able to do this without them. From the jump, I was greeted with the utmost respect and acceptance.
“I truly love my life and cannot understand why I have been blessed with so much. I feel especially thankful to have had so much support when many who came before—and many even now—do not. I stand on the shoulders of giants, incredible people who paved the way for me to have this opportunity. I do not know all the history behind our courageous LGBTQ community but I am eager to learn and to help continue the fight for quality and acceptance.”
“As I mentioned in my video message, I am partnering with The Trevor Project when I learned about their mission to provide suicide prevention services to the LGBTQ community. Young LGBTQ kids are over five times more likely than their straight friends to consider suicide. For someone like me, who has been so lucky and cherishes every day, it brings me incredible sadness to think that out LGBTQ youth are at such an elevated risk for suicide. I feel an immense responsibility to help in any way I can—and you can too. Studies have shown that all it takes is one accepting adult to decrease the risk of an LGBTQ kid attempting suicide by 40%. Whether you’re a friend, a parent, a coach, or a teammate—you can be that person.
“Lastly, I hope everyone can understand that I am just one person. I am a lanky walk-on who is living his dream. I only have a small window to achieve greatness in my sport and I owe it to my team, coaches, and Raider fans to be completely locked in and at my best for the upcoming season. I’m a private person, so I’d ask the media to give me some space as I navigate this exciting time in my life. Please do not take it personally if I decline an interview or am unable to answer your questions. Thank you everyone for your support.”
—Nassib’s more detailed message posted as a follow-up to his original coming out video. (NFL.com)
“I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great.”
—Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden offers his support to Nassib, who is entering his second year with the team.
“These are personal decisions. It’s 2021 and he’s a Raider. If he’s happy, I’m happy. It takes courage. I thought we got to the point where this wasn’t (a story). It doesn’t change my opinion of him as a man or as a Raider.”
—Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis’s comments on Nassib, echoing the nonchalant nature of Nassib’s video. (NFL.com)
“Carl Nassib, thank you for owning your truth and especially your donation to the Trevor Project. LBGTQ people are more likely to commit suicide than heterosexuals. I hope and pray people will take note to this. Thank you again Carl and look forward to seeing you play on the field.”
—Former Missouri Tigers defensive end Michael Sam congratulates Nassib for coming out. Named SEC Defensive Player of the Year as a senior, Sam came out after completing his college football career. Sam would become the first publicly gay player drafted in the NFL, but never made a regular-season roster. (Michael Sam via Twitter)
“Please excuse my language when I say this: ‘Y’all done f***ed up.'”
—Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown sends out a warning to the rest of the league after his team traded second- and fourth-round picks for wide receiver Julio Jones. Brown aggressively campaigned for the Titans to acquire Jones through pitches on social media. (A.J. Brown via Twitter)
“I wouldn’t compare the two as far as Corey Davis to Julio and what he didn’t do and what he’s not gonna do but what I will say is that, obviously, having Derrick [Henry] back there in the backfield, all defenses have to respect him, whether they’re putting eight men in the box, at times, nine men in the box, whatever they have to do to stop the run. That’s gonna be a lot of opportunity for Julio and A.J. and all the other receivers that we have to get one-on-one coverages, to get favorable matchups, to be able to win one-on-one.”
“Obviously, we’ve seen A.J. Brown take slants 80 yards to the house and, obviously, we’ve seen Julio do that numerous amount of times in his career. So, like I said, defenses are just gonna have a lot of trouble game-planning against us every week because if you try to double Julio or slide the safety over to Julio’s side and you have A.J. Brown on the other side. I like our matchups but like I said, I know our offensive coordinator and all those guys and [coach Mike] Vrabel are gonna do a lot of different ways to line those guys up in different places. Julio in the slot, A.J. in the slot, we can move guys all around.”
—Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard breaks down the difficulties defenses will face trying to match up against Jones, Brown, and running back Derrick Henry (NFL.com)
“I really just picked it. Me and A.J., we were pretty much at dinner and just talking. He tried to give me (No.) 11. But I said, ‘I don’t want it. That’s your number.’ So I was going to go with the (No.) 2.”
“The (No.) 2, one plus one is two. Then two times 11 is 22 (Derrick Henry’s number). So it’s kind of like you going to have to deal with us.”
—Julio Jones on his new jersey number, No. 2. (USA Today)
RESTED AND UNBOTHERED
“It has been one of those quiet offseasons you just dream about where you can just kind of go through your process on your own quietly and that’s all you can ask for as an older player in the league and someone who has been around for a long time and just enjoy that time to yourself, to just relax, to not be bothered, to not have any obligations or anything going on. I think that’s what this offseason has been about. It has been about really enjoying my time and spending it where I want to spend it and not feeling like I have to go anywhere and not having any responsibilities but still being an NFL player at the same time. It has been great.”
—Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who failed to show up to the team’s mandatory minicamp, breaks down how he has perceived this offseason. Rodgers made the comment in an “I’m Offended” shirt, a possible nod to Packers CEO Mark Murphy calling Rodgers a “complicated fella.” (NFL.com)
SAM’S SECOND WIND
“I saw like a new energy out of him, a glowing charisma that I didn’t really see in New York. You know when a person, you can see a glow in them, their energy, an aura—I can see that when I walked into the building and just being around him.”
—Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson, who played with quarterback Sam Darnold in 2018 and 2019 on the New York Jets, believes that Darnold is a new man in Carolina. (AP News)
FULL SAILS AHEAD
“I’d probably quit football if I had to play for somebody else. I am a Raider for my entire life. I’m going to root for one team for the rest of my life—it’s the Raiders. So, I just feel that so strong in my heart I don’t need a perfect situation … to make things right. I’d rather go down with the ship, you know what I’m saying, if I have to.”
— Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr hopes to retire a Raider despite being tied to trade rumors this past offseason listing his club as being on both Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers’ lists of preferred teams. (ESPN)
RAVENS TAKE FLIGHT
“We have been working, not just me, all the [quarterbacks] and receivers, we have been getting together and trying to make [passing deep] a big emphasis for us this year. People always saying we throw short, intermediate routes and stuff like that, little 5-yard, 10-yard routes. We had some chances last year, we hit some of them but we’re just trying to be more consistent this year. That’s where the strides happen, it starts in practice and hopefully it transitions to the game. Just gotta keep working on it.”
—Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson discusses the strides he and his team have made in improving their passing attack—especially on deep targets. The Ravens offense finished third in rushing DVOA, but 17th in passing DVOA. (NFL.com)
“I think his physical tools are as good as anybody I have ever seen. By all accounts, he’s a great worker. He’s got great leadership qualities, he’s got a lot of intangibles. So I think the sky’s the limit for a guy like him. I love the fact that he’s in this offense now with Joe Lombardi. He brings a ton of knowledge and experience, not only coaching quarterbacks but also within the system that we ran. And I think he’ll be able to tailor-make that for Justin’s skills and obviously the tools and weapons that he has around him.”
—Former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees touches on Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert while visiting their minicamp as part of his new analyst role with NBC. Under head coach Brandon Staley, Herbert will be running a modified version of Saints coach Sean Payton’s West Coast offense, called by former Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi. (Fernando Ramirez, Sports Illustrated via Twitter)
WELCOME HOME, TOM
“Oh, you mean, like, ‘soft sacking’ him? Nah, you can’t do none of that stuff with him, man. He’s trying to throw touchdowns.”
“No, in between the lines, it’s football. I’m sure he wouldn’t expect anything different.”
—New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower is excited to play against former teammate Tom Brady when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to Foxborough in Week 4. When asked if he would let up at all against the 44-year-old quarterback, Hightower gave an answer knowing what Brady would like. (Boston Globe)
EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT SCOUTING KICKERS
“No two kickers are the same, right? I’ll just go ahead and tell you that. So if you were to write down, like hey, this kicker has to have this, this, and this, and look like this, this, this, you can just throw that out the window. You’re not hardly ever gonna be able to pull up film and say ‘this is what every single kicker needs to look like.’ So there’s a lot more that goes into that. It’s leg speed. Alright so how fast is this kid’s leg moving? Does he have a fast leg, or is he smooth? Alright, is he jerky? Does he have a lot of movement? So anytime you’re involved with a kicker, but each guy is different. So you have to see while you’re watching each guy’s, like, maybe it’s just steps, right, we got to iron out the steps. Maybe it’s the ball contact. You know when you actually listen, you want to see if you can hear a kicker right when you listen to guys with the pop off the ball, like you want to be able to hear some pop. That’s gonna tell you, hey, they got some power right? When you’re watching a guy, if you blink and you don’t really see his leg when it comes in that backswing that means he’s got a fast leg, which is going to generate power. Then it’s like, alright, is he swinging across his body? Alright, or is that leg going more vertical down the field, right? So we’re looking at the power of the leg strength, all that goes into it, but it’s also his approach as well to the ball: is he smooth, is he rigid, you know, is he making the same contact over and over and over, like they’re making the same contact over and over. Usually now you may tweak one thing here or there, but you’re not going to really try to revamp everything because each guy’s different and something that works for one may not work for another. So like when you’re watching and kickers evaluating, it’s always good to get feedback. Who do you watch, what do you study, and it’s like, OK, well the guy wants to take a little bit from this guy that’s got a great idea and maybe a little bit from this guy.”
—New England Patriots special teams coordinator Cam Achord goes long when discussing his scouting process from one of the most overlooked positions in football. (Evan Lazar, CLNS via Twitter)
THIS MONTH IN SOCIAL MEDIA
GET YOU A HYPE MAN LIKE TRAVIS KELCE
Protect Travis Kelce at all costspic.twitter.com/fTf9Y11Dqd
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) June 24, 2021
—Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce provides some much-needed color commentary to the introductory monologues at Tight End University, a meeting of many of the NFL’s top tight ends.
OK, MAYBE IT’S TIME TO SHAVE
Nothing fazes Fitz, not even a cicada 😂
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) June 9, 2021
—Washington Football Team quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick made an extra friend at minicamp when a cicada lodged itself in his beard.