Carl Nassib: The First Active NFL Player to Come Out as Gay

Las Vegas Raiders defense end Carl Nassib

The Las Vegas Raiders defensive end receives widespread support following his annoucment

Las Vegas Raiders defense end Carl Nassib made history when he came out as gay Monday, making him the first-ever active NFL player to do so.

“Just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Nassib said in an Instagram post. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”

While he isn’t the only NFL player to come out as gay, Nassib will be the first to play in an active season.

Former University of Missouri Michael Sam came out as gay following his successful college career and before the 2014 NFL draft, making him the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. However, Sam played only played for the St. Louis Rams during the preseason, and stepped away from professional football in 2015 citing mental health reasons.

Other players have come out since retiring, including former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Ryan Russell who came out as bisexual in 2019, and former Cowboys linebacker Jeff Rohrer who came out gay in last year after marrying his partner.

Nassib said in his post that part of his decision for visibility purposes for the LGBTQ+ community.

“I’m a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know that I’m really not doing this for attention,” Nassib said. “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.”

Nassib also mentioned in his statement that he plans on donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit group that focuses on suicide prevention programs for LGBTQ+ youth.

“For someone like me, who’s been so lucky and cherished every day, it brings me incredible sadness to think that our LGBTQ youth are at such an elevated risk for suicide,” Nassib wrote.

Nassib’s announcement has received widespread support across social media, including congratulatory remarks from The Raiders and the NFL.

“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” NFL Commissioner Robert Goodall 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.”

The NFL also stated that they would match Nassib’s donation to the Trevor Project.

Before joining the Raiders, Nassib joined Penn State’s football team as a walk-on. In 2015, he won the Big Ten Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year and was eventually drafted to the Cleveland Browns in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Nassib played three seasons with the Browns before joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018. Nassib signed with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020 for a three-year contract.

Nassib’s historical statement also coincides with Pride Month, which is dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community every June.

Nassib ended his announcement by describing himself as a “lanky walk-on who is living his dream,” and wished everyone a happy Pride Month.

Nassib’s number 94 jersey is currently the top-selling jersey on the entire Fanatics network, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

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