Raiders’ Carl Nassib becomes 1st active NFL player to come out as gay

HENDERSON, Nev. — Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive lineman Carl Nassib on Monday became the first active player in the National Football League to come out as gay.

Nassib, 28, a third-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 2016 NFL draft, made the announcement via Instagram.

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“What’s up, people?” Nassib said in a video posted to the social media platform. “I’m at my house here in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. 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. I’ve got the best family, friends and job a guy could ask for.”

Nassib, who signed a three-year, $25 million contract with the Raiders in March 2020, went on to say that despite his private nature, he intends to “do my best to do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate, and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project.”

The Trevor Project is a nonprofit group focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth, The New York Times reported.

Nassib’s announcement rippled quickly across the league and broader sports world, drawing high-profile praise and support.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league “is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” the sports news network reported.

Meanwhile, Raiders owner Mark Davis told the network that Nassib’s announcement in no way changes his perception of the former Penn State standout and 2015 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year “as a person or as a Raider.”

“It’s 2021,” Davis said. “All the more power to Carl.”

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden told ESPN via text message: “I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great.”

In his post, Nassib thanked his coaches, teammates and the league for their support.

“I would not be able to do this without them,” Nassib said in the video.

Former University of Missouri standout and 2014 seventh-round draft pick Michael Sam announced he was gay immediately prior to his selection by the Rams. The team, then based in St. Louis, cut Sam at the end of training camp, and although he was eventually signed to the Dallas Cowboys practice squad, he never played in a regular-season game, the Times reported.

By contrast, Nassib has played with three teams over five seasons, including a stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he remains under the three-year, $25 million contract signed in March 2020 with the Raiders, the newspaper reported.

According to the Times, several NFL players have come out as gay, but not until after their playing careers concluded, including the following:

  • David Kopay, who played for nine seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and four other teams in the 1960s and 1970s, came out as gay in 1975, three years after he retired.
  • Roy Simmons, who played linebacker for the New York Giants and the Washington Football Team, came out as gay in 1992. He later disclosed he was HIV-positive and died from pneumonia-related complications in 2014 at the age of 57.

Meanwhile, GLAAD called Nassib’s announcement “a historic reflection of the growing state of LGBTQ visibility and inclusion in the world of professional sports.”

“... 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,” the organization said in a prepared statement.