Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player in history to announce that he is gay.
“What’s up people,” Nassib posted 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 number one 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.”
On the Instagram post, the Raiders tweeted a heart emoji (in silver and black, which is fitting), showing the team supports Nassib and that his announcement was not a shock. They also tweeted out, “Proud of you, Carl” from the team’s official account.
In a series of Instragram posts attached to his original and captured by Lindsay Jones, Nassib said, “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 am 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. ...
“Lastly, I hope everyone can understand that I am just one person. I am a lanly walk-on who is living his dream. I only have a small window to achieve greatness in my sport 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. Thank you everyone for your support.”
I was able to reach Dave Kopay, who came out as gay in 1975 after retiring from a nine-year NFL career, and he was ecstatic.
“Oh shit!” he said. “That’s really big news. It’s fabulous. This is incredible.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell pledged his support for Nassib, he told Outsports in a statement:
“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. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season.”
Nassib, 28, is entering his sixth NFL season, his second with the Raiders after stints with the Browns and Buccaneers. He has 20.5 career sacks. He played in college for Penn State (where I am a proud alum).
No openly active gay or bi player has ever played a down in an NFL regular season game. There have been 15 players who came out after playing, or in the case of Michael Sam in 2014, was out after being drafted but never made a roster.