NFL defensive end Carl Nassib generated international headlines in June when he became the first active NFL player to come out as gay.
The 28-year-old was a third-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2016 and is entering the second year of a three-year, $25 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders. There was an outpouring of support for Nassib from a number of people around the league, including Raiders’ owner Mark Davis.
The CFL had an openly gay player for a brief time when Michael Sam suited up for the Montreal Alouettes in 2015. The Missouri product came out as gay before the 2014 NFL Draft in which he was selected in the seventh round by the Los Angeles Rams.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ offensive lineman Jermarcus Hardrick believes his team would be accepting of an openly gay player.
“It doesn’t matter who you are. You’re a person, when you come in here we’re going to love you,” said Hardrick in a videoconference. “You put that Blue Bomber helmet on, you put the W on, you’re one of us. I don’t care who you like or any of that.”
Hardrick is entering his fifth season with the Blue Bombers and is a popular player in the locker room. He and the rest of the offensive line have a group chat and have kept in close contact throughout the pandemic, though he’s in regular communication with players at other positions as well.
Winnipeg’s tight locker room and positive team culture was a key element to ending a 29-year Grey Cup drought in 2019. Hardrick feels that the locker room is accepting of diversity, including sexual preference.
The Blue Bombers open the 2021 CFL season with a game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on August 5 at IG Field.