Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out as gay on Monday, becoming the first active player in the National Football League to do so.
“Just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Nassib said in an Instagram video. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”
In the video, Nassib said that he has the best family, friends and job in the NFL, adding that while he’s normally a private person, he believes in the power of representation and visibility. He also announced a $100,000 donation to The Trevor Project for its work in LGBTQ+ suicide prevention.
The NFL celebrated Nassib’s announcement and the Raiders commented on Nassib’s post with a series of heart emojis.
“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today. 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,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season.”
Before taking his place with the Raiders, Nassib joined Penn State’s football team as a walk-on. By 2015, he had won the Big Ten Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year. He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, where he played for three seasons before being selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018. In 2020, he signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, where he is in the second season of a three-year contract.
In 2014, Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted by the NFL but was cut by the St. Louis Rams before he ever played a regular-season game. Multiple players have also come out after retiring from the league.
“I just think that representation and visibility are so important,” Nassib added. “I actually hope that one-day videos like this and the whole coming out process are just not necessary, but until then I”m gonna do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate.”