Jaguars assistant coach comes out as gay

Kevin Maxen
Kevin Maxen of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL football team poses for a photo in June 2021.
AP Photo, File

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ associate strength and conditioning coach came out as gay in an interview with Outsports, making him the first out gay male coach in major US men’s professional sports. 

“I don’t want to feel like I have to lie about who I am seeing, or why I am living with someone else,” the coach, Kevin Maxen, told Outsports. “I want to be vocal in support of people living how they want to live, but I also want to just live and not feel fear about how people will react.” 

Maxen was previously a strength coach with the football teams at Baylor and Vanderbilt, and he interned at the University of Iowa and with Army. Before working, though, Maxen was the captain for three seasons and a linebacker for Western Connecticut State University, a Division 3 school in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference, where, in his senior season, he was awarded first-team defense honors and played all 30 games. He finished his career with 171 total tackles. 

With the Jaguars, Maxen designs the workout plans of the offensive and defensive linemen, which includes planning exercises, weights, and recovery, and he travels with the team. 

Being on the team, surrounded by coaches and others in the organization with their families, pushed Maxen to come out for himself. 

“You have other coaches who have significant others, and they’re talking about their significant others,” Maxen said. “And I felt guilty that I couldn’t do the same thing, that I was letting myself down. I want the person I’m with to be able to share that with me.”

Needless to say, despite female coaches having come out before, Maxen is paving the way for future male coaches to come out or join the industry as openly gay men, especially having received an overwhelming amount of support from fans, colleagues, players, and more. 

“It wasn’t until recently — and with the immense love and support of my family, my friends, colleagues and peers, and the courage and sacrifice from my partner — that I realized I have the right and responsibility to love and be loved, and that maybe sharing this will hopefully give someone else the strength to accept their own life and take control of their own story,” he said. 

In response to his coming out, Shad Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, told ESPN that Maxen “is a Jacksonville Jaguar through and through, and a key member of our football team and community.”

“I look forward to seeing Kevin next week at training camp, and hope that he comes to work each day during camp and through the season feeling confident, free and at peace,” Khan said. “I know our players and staff feel the same.”

Mixen’s coming out story comes two years after then-49ers coach Katie Sowers became the first woman and first out LGBTQ individual to coach a Super Bowl.

Current and former NFL players have also started to come out more often in the last decade. In 2021, defensive end Carl Nassib — now a free agent — came out when he played the Raiders. Former NFL player RK Russell came out as bisexual in 2019 after stints with the Buccaneers, Cowboys, and Bills, and prior to that, Michael Sam became the first out gay NFL player to be drafted in 2014. He saw action in the preseason, but never played a down as an active NFL player after coming out.