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Carl Nassib, first openly gay player in NFL game, makes history and stars in thrilling Las Vegas Raiders win

Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib made history during the team's opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, becoming the first openly gay NFL player to suit up in a regular season game. Not only did he play, he starred — making a pivotal strip sack to help the Raiders beat the Ravens, 33-27, in an overtime thriller. 

With the game tied at 27 in extra time, Nassib stripped the ball away from Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson in the waning minutes of the period. The play then set up the Raiders' offense to score the game-winning touchdown after a come-from-behind effort by the team, who were playing their first game in Allegiant Stadium with fans. 

Following the game, Nassib, who finished with three total tackles, told reporters the victory was a "great team win." 

"I'm really happy that we got the win on the day that kind of made a little bit of history which was really nice to do," he said. "Had a lot of people come before me in the LGBTQ community that helped me get to where I am. I'm super thankful for that. I can't wait to get to Pittsburgh next week and keep this thing going."

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs the ball ahead of Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib (94) during the second half at Allegiant Stadium.  Mark J. Rebilas

Nassib, who has played in the NFL since 2016, came out as gay earlier this year. He's the first active, openly gay player to be on an NFL roster, but other players have paved the way. Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted by the NFL in 2014, but was cut by the St. Louis Rams before he ever played a regular-season game. Multiple players have also come out after retiring from the league.

Following his announcement, Nassib's popularity grew and his No. 94 became the NFL's top selling jersey. During ESPN2's "Monday Night Football" broadcast, NBA legend Charles Barkley wore his Nassib jersey. After a reporter asked Nassib about a child who wearing his jersey at the game, he said he wished he'd seen the kid and called it "special."

"That's great, that's amazing," he said. 

Nassib was a walk-on on Penn State's football team and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He played three seasons with the team before joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018. In 2020, he signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, where he is in the second season of a three-year contract.

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