On Monday, Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay in the history of the league. What followed was an outpouring of support from former stars, current teammates and football fans everywhere.
One of the most touching reactions came from Penn State head coach James Franklin. Nassib played for the Nittany Lions from 2011 to 2015, overlapping with the head coach who took over the program in 2014.
Franklin released a statement about Nassib’s announcement and also shared that he would be making a donation to the Trevor Project.
“I am very proud of Carl for his courage and voice,” Franklin wrote on Twitter. “This announcement doesn’t surprise me because if you know Carl, you know his strength. Carl’s story continues to add chapters which will have an impact well beyond the field of play.
“His care and love for those around him, particularly those in need, has always been obvious. His generosity and advocacy for The Trevor Project is yet another shining example of his huge heart. He has inspired Fumi and I to donate $10,000 to the The Trevor Project as well.
“Carl’s brave announcement will forge a path for others to be true to their authentic self. I was proud of Carl when he led the nation in sacks, but I’m even more proud of him now.”
— James Franklin (@coachjfranklin) June 22, 2021
Franklin’s statement echoed many of the ones sent to Nassib for showing tremendous bravery on Monday. The Las Vegas Raiders also expressed their support for their defensive lineman on social media as he broke a major barrier in the NFL.
Franklin developed a close relationship with Nassib at Penn State once he took over in 2014. Nassib, who walked onto the team in 2011, blossomed into an All-American by his senior season thanks to his relentless work ethic and the support of his head coach.
Nassib will continue to grow as a defensive lineman in the NFL with the Raiders, but his decision to come out on Monday will never be forgotten. By sharing a vulnerable part of himself, he may open the door for other LGBTQ+ athletes to come out publicly when they’re ready.