The Philadelphia Eagles will hit the road to face the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday for the first time ever in Sin City. Fans circled this game on their calendars when the NFL released its schedule in May. Like in many road stadiums in transplant cities, Philadelphia fans will show up in full force.
While Eagles fans enjoy the time of their lives this weekend, they should also hold true to Philadelphia’s reputation as a city that embraces its own and celebrates local success stories. They’ll get to see a great one in Raiders defensive end and West Chester native Carl Nassib.
Nassib, now in his sixth NFL season, made headlines by becoming the first openly gay player in league history to suit up for an NFL regular season game in the Raiders’ Week 1 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. His strip sack of Lamar Jackson in overtime of the Monday Night Football matchup was a pivotal play in the game. The 6-foot-7, 275 pound lineman spoke in depth on the Comeback Stories podcast with teammate Darren Waller about his decision to come out to the public during the offseason.
Carl Nassib’s Climb to NFL Prominence
College football scouts never touted Nassib as a top-tier recruit during his high school career at Malvern Prep in Chester County. He even revealed recently that he wasn’t taken seriously by a college coach when he communicated his goal of reaching the NFL. However, a growth spurt and a tremendous competitive drive earned him a spot as a walk-on at Penn State.
An unbelievable breakout effort during his senior season at Penn State in 2015 changed that tune. Nassib led the NCAA in sacks with 15.5. He won the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year Award, the Lombardi Award as the nation’s top lineman or linebacker, and the Lott IMPACT Trophy recognizing his display of “integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community, and tenacity.”
A player who was once buried on the depth chart at Malvern Prep suddenly became a legitimate, early-round NFL Draft prospect. The Cleveland Browns selected him with the second pick of the third round, 65th overall, in 2016.
He played his first professional game at Lincoln Financial Field in September 2016. He sacked former Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz once and finished with two QB hits. He also faced the Eagles as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2 of the 2018 season. He played 34 total snaps in a 27-21 victory for the Bucs, the Eagles’ first loss following Super Bowl LII.
Ryan Nassib- From Eagles Fan to NFC East Rival
Carl’s older brother, Ryan Nassib, played in the NFL as a member of the New York Giants during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He spoke exclusively with Philly Sports Network about his connections to the Philadelphia area, his own experience in the NFL, and his relationship with his younger brother.
Ryan, who is the all-time leader in passing yards at Syracuse University, saw his first regular season game action in relief of Eli Manning against, you guessed it, the Eagles, during a Week 6 matchup at the Linc in October 2014. It was a feel-good moment in front of his hometown crowd. He described it as “quite special for me to have the opportunity to run out onto that field as a player and compete.” He had also played at the Linc against Temple University during his senior season in 2012, when he helped Syracuse to a win on Thanksgiving weekend in their final regular season game as members of the Big East.
He described his family’s passion for the hometown team while growing up just outside the city:
“We tuned in and rooted for the Eagles almost every Sunday growing up. Not only because they were the local team, but also because they held training camp at one point at West Chester University, which was very close to where we grew up. As a kid, it was especially exciting watching the Eagles teams at that time led by Andy Reid, (Donovan) McNabb, (Brian) Westbrook on offense and Jimmy Johnson, Brian Dawkins, and many other great players on the defensive side.”
Carl, during his recent interview on Waller’s podcast, called Ryan’s career a way that made his path to the NFL seem “a little more normalized” compared to other players.
When asked about a hit that Carl threw on him during an NFL preseason game in 2016, Ryan lightheartedly shared his sentiment on his relationship with his younger brother.
“Competition amongst siblings is a common theme in our family, especially when we were kids, but Carl and I have always been and continue to be extremely supportive of each other’s careers.”
Their father and younger brother both also played college football at the University of Delaware.
Mike Mayock- A Second Philadelphia Connection
Raiders general manager Mike Mayock also grew up in the Philadelphia area. He attended the Haverford School on the Main Line before going on to play defensive back at Boston College. He played two seasons with the Giants in the early 1980s. He is currently in his third season as a league executive after working as a draft analyst for NFL Network through the 2018 season. His son played on high school teams at Malvern Prep with both Nassib brothers.
Lane Johnson and the Eagles offensive line will have their hands full protecting Jalen Hurts on Sunday with Nassib in a rotational role behind Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue on a stout defensive front. The Philadelphia fans will unquestionably root against anyone in silver and black, but they should also appreciate the opportunity to watch one of their own get a chance to play for Mayock’s Raiders against the Eagles.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire