Former Penn State and current Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out as gay on Monday. He is the first active NFL player in league history to announce that he is gay.
“What’s up people,” Nassib said on Instagram. “I’m at my house in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but finally feel comfortable getting it off my chest. I really have the best life, the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for.
“I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m not doing this for attention. 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 not necessary, but until then I will do my best and my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project. They’re an incredible organization, they’re the No. 1 suicide-prevention service for LGBTQ youth in America and they’re truly doing incredible things. I’m very excited to be a part of it and help in any way that I can and I’m really pumped to see what the future holds.”
No active player who identifies as gay or bisexual has played in an NFL regular season game, according to Outsports.com. There have been 15 players who have come out after playing, and former St. Louis Rams linebacker Michael Sam came out after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He was cut after training camp.
Nassib received immediate support from the NFL, including a statement from Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” Goodell wrote. “Representation matters. We share his hope that someday soon statements like his will no longer be newsworthy as we much toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season.”
Nassib is now heading into his sixth season in NFL after completing a lauded career at Penn State. The 28-year-old was named the 2015 Big Ten Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the year for 2015, won the Lombardi Award for being the best college football lineman or linebacker and the Hendricks Award for being the nation’s top defensive end.
He was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the best defensive player in the country and the Burlsworth Trophy, awarded to the nation’s best former walk-on player. He was additionally named as a USA Today All-American.
The defensive end was selected by the Cleveland Browns with the 65th pick of the 2016 NFL Draft and was subsequently picked up off of waivers by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018 after finishing two seasons with the Browns. He had 6.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss in 2018. Nassib signed a three-year deal with Las Vegas in March 2020, where he finished with 28 combined tackles, 2.5 sacks and one interception.
Nassib’s public announcement comes during Pride Month, which is dedicated to increasing visibility of LGBTQ individuals and the challenges they face.
“Carl Nassib’s powerful coming out is 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,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a release. “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.”