In the 24 hours after NFL defensive end, Carl Nassib became the first active player in league history to be openly gay, sales of Nassib’s No. 94 Las Vegas Raiders jersey exploded. The jersey is now reportedly the No. 1 seller on Fanatics, the NFL’s official e-commerce partner. As reported by ESPN, it is also the top mover on the Fanatics’ family of other online retailers, including NFLShop.com.
According to sports analyst Darren Rovell of The Action Network, Nassib’s Instagram follower count rocketed by 550% in the same timeframe. Per Rovell, Fanatics spokesperson Brandon Williams did not offer specific data on the sales of Nassib’s jersey. However, Williams did say that sales of Nassib’s No. 94 jersey outperformed the company’s second top-seller, which belongs to Chicago Bears rookie QB Justin Fields, over the last two days.
In Monday’s announcement, Nassib noted that he is a generally private individual; however, he further went on to say, “I really have the best life, I’ve got the best family, friends, and job a guy could ask for.” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr echoed the sentiment, and he voiced his support of Nassib in return. “I have often said I love my teammates. I mean it,” Carr said. “We always say we are a family in that Raider locker room, and we mean that too. I want to win a championship here with Carl and the rest of our teammates.”
Many sports notables, both past and present, as well as celebs beyond the sports world, have come out in praise of Nassib. Tennis legend Billie Jean King, Nassib’s college coach James Franklin, iconic multisport superstar Bo Jackson, and more have been open in their backing of the Raiders defensive end.
Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team in 2014, tweeted his own words of encouragement. “Carl Nassib thank you for owning your truth and especially your donation to the @TrevorProject,” he wrote. Sam was later cut by every team and exited pro football before ever having one official NFL snap in his career, for the sake of his mental health. “LBGTQ people are more likely to commit suicide than heterosexuals,” Sam continued. “I hope and pray people will take note to this. Thank you again Carl and look forward to seeing you play on the field.”