LAS VEGAS – Carl Nassib, a defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders, has played 74 games in the NFL and has said he tries to remember them all.
“And I won’t forget this one,” he said Monday evening.
It was Nassib’s first regular-season game since becoming the NFL’s first active and openly gay player – and he had a starring role.
As the Raiders and Baltimore Ravens face off in overtime on “Monday Night Football,” Nassib caused a fumble – with a handbag from star Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson – that allowed the Raiders’ winning touchdown to win an exciting game, 33-27 victory.
Nassib, 28, was released publicly on June 21.
“I’m happy that we got the win the day I kind of made history a little bit, which was really, really enjoyable to do,” said Nassib. “I have had a lot of people before me in the LGBTQ community who have helped me get to where I am, and I am very grateful for that.”
Nassib is a replacement and was needed more than ever for two reasons: two other defensive ends adjusted because two others were injured, and Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, is one of the best and most elusive runners in the league.
“STRIKE A CHORD”:Fan at Raiders game to support openly gay DE Carl Nassib
THE STORY:Las Vegas Raiders’ Nassib becomes first openly gay NFL active player
OPINION:Nassib’s coming out doesn’t just make history. The DL Raiders could save lives.
Jackson was more than solid Monday, passing for 235 yards and rushing for 86. But with Nassib helping to apply the pressure, the Ravens superstar wasn’t good enough to propel his team past the Raiders. Especially after Nassib dropped the ball while knocking out Jackson in the backfield.
Raiders defensive tackle Darius Philon recovered the fumble with 4:31 left in overtime at the Ravens’ 27-yard line. Two plays later, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw a 31-yard shot at Zay Jones for the winning touchdown. Nassib joined the wild celebration, and soon after, won the Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden Award.
“It was huge,” Gruden said of Nassib’s forced escape. “He gave us a big game at the end of the game.
Chances are, Nassib will have the opportunity to do more.
“He’s had a great training camp and obviously we’ll need him here as we move forward,” said Gruden.
Nassib seems to understand what will help make his next games as easy to remember as the last 74.
“Getting turnovers is the key to good defense,” he said. “I hope I can get the ball out in some really tight situations.”