Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out as the NFL’s first active openly gay player on Monday, and Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner his shared support for his former teammate.
Joining The Fan Morning Show on 93.7 The Fan Tuesday, Banner not only described Nassib as a good person and teammate, but he also applauded other NFL players for their overwhelming public support.
“The reason why that’s important, some people get pissed off about it but those are the same people that kinda really are holding us back and their mindset and their opinions are really irrelevant because it’s not so much supporting Carl, but it’s supporting kids like Carl you know who don’t have that outlet, who sometimes don’t have that support, who don’t have the financial means to be just fine living their lifestyle regardless if anyone cares about it, who are bullied, who are sometimes forced into suicide and to hurting themselves,” Banner said.
While Banner knows that not every player in the league will receptive to Nassib’s announcement, he does believes those individuals and others beyond football can take this opportunity to learn empathy and become more accepting.
“Let them realize just because this man is coming out and owning being gay, that doesn’t mean that he’s going to look at you, that he’s going to touch you, it’s actually pretty offensive if you think with that mindset,” Banner said. “The only way that you can be empathetic toward something is if you listen to the story and educate yourself and if you’re negligent to that then keep your opinions to yourself… that’s the thing that’s holding this country and this world back is not accepting things that are different and not accepting things that are okay.”
Banner added that those contrarian opinions are not held in the Steelers’ locker room, and that he would shut them down if he became aware of them.
“Honestly, sometimes I really don’t understand how you can hate somebody for who they love and what they do, so if he was in my locker room, I would totally and completely support him,” Banner said.
Banner and Nassib were teammates on the Cleveland Browns in 2017.