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History-making NFL player Carl Nassib signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pro football's first openly gay active player heads back to Tampa after two seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Carl Nassib #94 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second half during their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 12, 2019, in Charlotte, N.C.
Carl Nassib of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 12, 2019. Jacob Kupferman / Getty Images file

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed defensive end Carl Nassib — pro football's first openly gay, active player — bringing him back to where he delivered two of his most productive seasons, officials said Tuesday.

Nassib, then of the Las Vegas Raiders, came out a little more than a year ago and made one of the NFL's most memorable early season plays, sacking the Baltimore Ravens' Lamar Jackson and forcing a fumble in a dramatic Monday Night Football victory for the Silver & Black.

This will be Nassib’s seventh season in the NFL and his second stint in Tampa Bay, where he played in 2018 and 2019, recording 6.5 and 6 sacks, respectively, those years.

Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles lauded Nassib's ability to stop the run and pressure the quarterback.

"He has a lot of versatility, he brings a lot of energy, he brings a lot of toughness," Bowles told reporters Tuesday. "He understands the (team's) system. He was comfortable in it, so we look forward to him coming here."

The Raiders elected not to bring back Nassib for 2022, opting for a more cost-efficient edge rusher. He would have made $7.75 million this season had he returned to Las Vegas.

This signing by Tampa Bay could be as crucial a moment in the history of gay acceptance within sports as Nassib's coming out last year, according to Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of Outsports.com.

For a team, especially a high-profile Super Bowl contender like Tampa, to sign an openly gay player is "huge," Ziegler wrote.

The acquisition shows that Nassib's on-the-field production trumps any lingering homophobia, according to Ziegler, who contended that "people claiming that men’s pro sports broadly hate gay athletes (and yes, this is still a claim) simply have no leg to stand on."

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