'Courageous': Michigan's chief justice applauds cousin Carl Nassib for coming out

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Before Carl Nassib played for the Las Vegas Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns or Penn State, he was on the "green team."

Nassib's mother, Mary, came from such a big family — she's one of 12 children — that when they would have family get-togethers, each different family was assigned a designated-color shirt to make things organized. Bridget Mary McCormack, chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, was on the "navy-blue team." McCormack and Mary Nassib are first cousins, making Carl Nassib her cousin, too.

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice McCormack called Carl Nassib "courageous" for coming out, making her cousin the first active NFL player to do so.

Nassib earlier this week made history in becoming the first active NFL player to publicly reveal he's gay. It caught the sports world by surprise, and McCormack, too.

"I certainly didn't know it was coming," McCormack said Friday. "I was super proud of him. I think it's courageous and important, and it will make a big difference to a lot of kids who are struggling with figuring out how to come out. I was very proud."

In making his announcement Monday on Instagram, Nassib, 28, tied it to a $100,000 donation to The Trevor Project, an organization that works with LGBTQ+ youth, especially with suicide prevention. According to The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ+ kid is three times more likely to die by suicide than a straight youth.

Nassib had been in talks with The Trevor Project about the donation weeks before his announcement.

"That was his goal," McCormack said while on the road Friday, heading for a vacation in the Upper Peninsula with husband Steven Croley. "If people see someone like him can be public about being OK, they might be OK, as well — representation in all different parts of life. It makes a difference."

McCormack, 54, said her family gatherings always are massive, but noted that Carl Nassib's family — parents Mary and Gilbert, brothers Ryan and John, and sisters Carey and Paige — have been regular attendees over the years.

More: Paul: Somewhere, a gay kid's in a better place because Carl Nassib came out

While there have been a lot of cousins to get to know over the years, McCormack noted that Carl Nassib, now a defensive end for the Raiders, was seen as "sweet and kind" growing up in Pennsylvania.

And, now, he's a trailblazer.

"I think it's a hard thing for a young man in his position to do," McCormack said. "As he said, he struggled with (thinking of) doing it for many years.

"I think it's courageous."

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984