LAS VEGAS (NewsNation Now) — A defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders announced he was gay, making him the first openly gay active NFL player.
Carl Nassib came out in a video shared to his followers on Instagram. He said he had been “meaning to do it for a while now” but wasn’t comfortable to share his sexuality until now.
“I really have the best life. I’ve got the best job, friends, a family. I’m a really private person so I hope you guys don’t think I’m doing this for attention. I just think representation and visibility are so important,” said Nassib.
The athlete also donated $100,000 to the Trevor Project, an LGBTQ advocacy and support resource.
His Instagram post included a longer text message where he thanked his teammates, coaches and the NFL organization for supporting him.
“From the jump, I was greeted with the utmost respect and acceptance,” wrote Nassib.
Nassib played collegiately at Penn State and was taken in the third round of the 2016 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns. He played with them and the Tampa Bay Buccanneers before signing a three-year Contract with the Raiders in 2020.
“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “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’s announcement was greeted by Brian Burke, president of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. Burke has been a major proponent of LGBTQ rights for more than a decade since his late son Brendan came out as gay.
“Proud to support Carl and his decision to come out as the first active gay player in the NFL,” Burke said. “I hope other sports executives will join me in publicly expressing their support as well.”
Nassib is not the first openly gay player in the NFL overall.
Michael Sam, a former NFL player, came out as gay after his college football career at the University of Missouri. The Rams drafted him, but he never made the active roster and finished his career without playing in an NFL game.
Sam was the first publicly gay player drafted in the NFL.
More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over.
Nassib explained part of the reason he came out publicly was to normalize LGBTQ acceptance so that videos like his were no longer the norm.
He concluded his post, “Happy Pride Month and Go Raiders.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.