Carl Nassib, in a very direct but informal way, announced to the world a few months ago that he is gay.
"I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I'm gay," Nassib said in an Instagram video. "I've been meaning to do this for a while now but finally feel comfortable getting it off my chest. I really have the best life, the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for."
For reasons that our Chris Hine articulated quite well at the time, the fact that Nassib — a defensive lineman actively playing for the NFL's Raiders — made this step carried a great deal of significance.
Nassib is a good player but hardly a star player. But he figured to be on the field for the Raiders at the start of the season when he would make history.
Nassib didn't just do that. He saved the game for the Raiders as well.
In a wild game with an even wilder overtime, Nassib's sack of Ravens QB Lamar Jackson caused a fumble that Las Vegas recovered. The Raiders scored the winning TD on the ensuing possession, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
Nassib, for his part, was understated — just as he was a few months ago.
"Lot of firsts today," Nassib said after the game. "No one blinked. It was awesome. It was a great team win, for sure."
Now: There are those that would say that Nassib coming out as gay is "no big deal" in 2021. According to the Williams Institute, 3.5% of U.S. adults identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. So several million Americans are like Nassib in that way.
But as Hine wrote a few months ago, Nassib coming out is still important in two ways:
One, it shows a certain progress, particularly in the NFL and particularly in contrast to Michael Sam's experience several years ago.
Two, Nassib is now a role model.
As Hine wrote: "If I had someone like Nassib to look up to when I was younger, perhaps I wouldn't have spent so many sleepless nights wondering if I'd ever be able to come out. He can let people know it's OK."
And on the field Monday, Nassib was more than OK. He was the difference-maker again.