Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib made sports history Monday when he came out as gay, becoming the first active player in NFL history to do so.
Nassib made the announcement in a video from his home in West Chester, PA posted to his Instagram. “I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Nassib said. “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 could ask for.”
Nassib continued: “I’m a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know that I’m not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope that one day videos like this and the whole coming out process are not necessary, but until then, I will do my best and my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate.”
The six-year NFL veteran thanked the NFL, Raiders organization, coaches and his teammates for supporting him in making his identity known publicly. “I would not have been able to do this without them. From the jump, I was greeted with the utmost respect and acceptance,” Nassib said. Both the NFL and Raiders social media accounts shared Nassib’s post with messages of pride.
In a statement to Outsports, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell lauded Nassib for living his truth. “The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” Goodell said. “Representation matters. We share his hope that someday soon statements like his will no longer be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season.”
Nassib also recognized historic LGBTQ leaders of days past. “I stand on the shoulders of giants, incredible people who paved the way for me to have this opportunity,” Nassib said. “I do not know all the history behind our courageous LGBTQ community, but I am eager to learn and to help continue the fight for equality and acceptance.”
He kicked off his effort in that fight by announcing a donation of $100,000 to The Trevor Project. “For someone like me, who has been lucky and cherishes every day, it brings me incredible sadness to think that our LGBTQ youth are at such an elevated risk for suicide,” Nassib said. “I feel an immense responsibility to help in any way I can.”
Nassib is entering his second season with the Las Vegas Raiders after stints with the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has amassed 20.5 sacks in his career. He joins former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end R.K. Russell as the second NFL player to come out as LGBTQ in recent years. Russell came out as bisexual in 2019 and hasn’t played in the league since 2018.
According to Outsports,15 NFL players have come out as LGBTQ, none of them did so while they were active in the league. Carl Nassib will likely become the first out gay player in NFL history to play in a regular-season game when the 2021-22 season kicks off later this year.
Nassib’s historic announcement drew overwhelming praise:
Carl Nassib: Previously on Towleroad
Photo courtesy of Erik Drost/Creative Commons