Metro Weekly

Las Vegas Raiders’ Carl Nassib becomes first openly gay active NFL player

Third-round 2016 draft pick posts video of his coming out moment to Instagram and pledges $100,000 to The Trevor Project.

Carl Nassib – Photos: (left) Instagram, (right) Las Vegas Raiders, via Instagram.

Carl Nassib, a defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders, came out as gay, making him the NFL’s only openly gay player. If he survives roster cutdowns following training camp later this summer, and he could eventually become the first openly gay player to start an NFL game.

“I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Nassib said in a video shot at his house in West Chester, Pennsylvania and posted to his Instagram account. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.

“I really have the best life,” Nassib continued. “I’ve 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, but I think representation matters.”

Nassib also pledged to donate $100,000 to The Trevor Project, the nation’s largest crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth, adding: “I actually hope that one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are not necessary, but until then I will do my best and my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate.”

No openly gay player has ever played in a regular-season NFL game, according to NBC Sports. Former University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam came out as gay before the 2014 NFL draft, was drafted by the then-St. Louis Rams and played for them in the preseason, but did not make the final 53-man roster. He then landed on the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad, only to be cut later that season.

Ryan Russell, a former player who started games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2016-2017, who spent time on the Dallas Cowboys’ roster and the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad, came out as bisexual in 2019, becoming the only out LGBTQ free agent in the NFL. But he failed to get picked up by an NFL team that season, or in the 2020 season.

Additionally, 15 other former NFL players have come out as gay or bisexual after retiring from the league.

See also: Retired NFL tackle says every football team has “at least one” gay or bisexual player

Nassib, 28, was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year when he played for Penn State in 2015. He was drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns, where he made the 53-man roster and played for two seasons. He also previously played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons before signing a three-year, $25 million deal with Las Vegas in 2020.

Nassib’s brother, Ryan, a former NFL quarterback, was drafted by the Giants in 2013 and was with the team for four seasons before brief stints with the New Orleans Saints during the 2017 offseason and the Jacksonville Jaguars during the regular season, reports The New York Post.

In a message posted along with the video on his Instagram, Nassib shared his feelings about coming out.

“Hey, everyone, happy Pride Month,” he wrote. “Right now, I am in a moment of gratitude and relief. Sadly, I have agonized over this moment for the last 15 years. Only until recently, thanks to my family and friends, especially Connor, Cason, and Francis, did it seem possible for me to say publicly and proudly that I’m gay. I am also incredibly thankful for the NFL, my coaches, and fellow players for their support. I would not have been able to do this without them. From the jump, I was greeted with the utmost respect and acceptance.

Carl Nassib at Raiders practice – Photo: Las Vegas Raiders, via Instagram.

“I truly love my life and cannot understand why I have been blessed with so much. I feel especially thankful to have had so much support when many who came before — and many even now — do not. I stand on the shoulders of giants, incredible people who have paved the way for me to have this opportunity. I do not know all the history behind our courageous LGBTQ community, but I am eager to learn and to help continue the fight for equality and acceptance.

“I hope everyone can understand that I am just one person. I am a lankly walk-on who is living his dream. I only have a small window to achieve greatness in my sports and I owe it to my team, coaches, and Raider fans to be completely locked in and at my best for the upcoming season. I’m a private person, so I’d ask the media to give me some space as I navigate this exciting time in my life. Please do not take it personally if I decline an interview or am unable to answer your questions.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of the LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD, called Nassib’s coming out a “historic reflection of the growing state of LGBTQ visibility and inclusion in the world of professional sports, which has been driven by a long list of brave LGBTQ athletes who came before him.”

“As an accomplished athlete who is now the first out gay active player in the NFL, Carl Nassib’s story will not only have a profound impact on the future of LGBTQ visibility and acceptance in sports, but sends a strong message to so many LGBTQ people, especially youth, that they too can one day grow up to be and succeed as a professional athlete like him,” Ellis said.

See also:

U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney reintroduces LGBTQ-inclusive violent crime reporting bill

Charlotte City Council Republican proposes new LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance

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