Gay NFL player Carl Nassib takes leave of absence after head coach’s homophobic emails exposed

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Las Vegas Raiders’ Carl Nassib has taken some time off after head coach Jon Gruden was forced to resign over his hate-filled emails.

Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said at a news conference on Wednesday (13 October) that Nassib, the NFL’s first openly gay active player, would be excused from the team’s activities as he processes recent events.

Gruden resigned from the team on Monday (12 October) after emails emerged in which he used homophobic, misogynistic and racist language.

“[Nassib] requested a personal day today,” Mayock said. “He just said he’s got a lot to process. There’s a lot that’s been going on the last few days, and of course, we support that request.”

Raiders tight end Darren Waller expressed his support for Nassib. He described the NFL star as a “lone wolf” when it comes to handling his emotions.

“Nobody should be able to tell him how to feel,” Waller said. “Nobody should be able to tell him how to grieve, and he deserves to take time for himself because that’s a lot to process.”

He added that he respected his teammate for “wanting to take his space” to be able to “come back clear-headed” for future games.

The New York Times reported Gruden used homophobic and misogynistic language in several emails sent between 2011 and 2018, when he worked as an ESPN commentator. In one, Gruden called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “f****t” and a “clueless anti-football p***y”.

He also spoke out against Goodell for supposedly pressuring the St Louis Rams to hire “queers” after the team drafted openly gay player Michael Sam in 2014.

​​The Wall Street Journal reported Gruden used a racist trope in a 2011 email to describe DeMaurice Smith, the NFL Players Association executive director.

Gruden has apologised for his emails, saying he “never meant to hurt anyone”. He’s also claimed that he is “not a racist” and apologised for his “insensitive remarks” after the Raiders’ loss to the Chicago bears over the weekend.

Carl Nassib #94 of the Las Vegas Raiders is greeted by head coach Jon Gruden. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Carl Nassib #94 of the Las Vegas Raiders is greeted by head coach Jon Gruden. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

In the wake of the scandal, Gruden has been removed from EA Sports’ popular Madden NFL video game series.

“EA Sports is committed to taking action in maintaining a culture of inclusion and equity,” the developer said in a statement. “Due to the circumstances of Jon Gruden’s resignation, we are taking steps to remove him from Madden NFL 22.”

EA Sports said it will now be replacing Gruden with a “generic likeness” through an update released in the coming weeks.

Carl Nassib has continuously spoken out about LGBT+ rights and inclusion in sport since he came out in June.

The NFL star said on Waller’s Comeback Stories podcast that he felt an “obligation” towards the LGBT+ community to “bring visibility to a very, very popular entertainment business” that “doesn’t have a lot of representation”.

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