Raiders defense end Carl Nassib came out as gay in an Instagram video on June 21, becoming the first active NFL player to come out.
“What’s up, people, I’m Carl Nassib, I’m at my house here in Westchester, Pennsylvania,” Nassib said in the video. “I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for awhile now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest. I really have the best life, I got the best family, friends, and job a guy could ask for. I’m a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know I’m not doing this for attention.”
He added, “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 just not necessary, but until then I’m going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, compassionate, and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project. They’re an incredible organization; they’re the number one suicide preventions service to LGBTQ youth in America…”
In a separate written statement, Nassib said his family, friends, teammates, and coaches have supported him.
“I would not have been able to do this without them,” he noted. “From the jump, I was greeted with the utmost respect and acceptance,”
Within hours, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement in support of Nassib.
“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 is the first NFL player to come out since Michael Sam, who became the first out gay player to be drafted by an NFL team when the Rams selected him in the seventh round of the 2014 draft. Sam went on to play for the Rams in the 2014 preseason, but was cut prior to the start of the regular season. He went on to endure a short-lived stint on the Cowboys practice squad and briefly joined the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. Sam never played in an NFL regular season game.
Free agent defensive end Ryan Russell came out as bisexual in 2019 after playing for the Cowboys and Buccaneers, but never landed with an NFL team after coming out.
Nassib, 28, was drafted 65th overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2016. He was waived at the beginning of the 2018 season, claimed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and in 2020 signed a three-year deal with the Raiders. He rose to the NFL after emerging as a walk-on at Penn State University, where he worked his way up to become the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2015. He played in 14 games last season, including five starts, and tallied 2.5 sacks, 28 tackles, and recorded his first career interception. He has played in at least 14 games in each of his first five NFL seasons. In 2018, he registered a career-high 6.5 sacks.
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