In his first public comments since the NFL season ended, Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib said coming out as gay last June was stressful but important to bring a voice to LGBTQ people.

“That was really exciting day for me,” Nassib said of his coming out Instagram post on June 21. “I had wanted to do it for a really long time. I wanted to be in a place where I felt totally comfortable, totally confident to give a voice to people who really needed it the most.

“I was with my friends and family and it definitely was a stressful thing to do, but we were really excited to spread the message of the Trevor Project to bring visibility and representation to the NFL, to sports, and we did it for the youth, for the kids who are struggling the most. That’s who I’m most passionate about and to be able to say I helped them is absolutely incredible.”

Nassib’s comments today came in a video posted by the Raiders where the team announced it was donating $100,000 to the LGBTQ suicide prevention and advocacy group Trevor Project, matching Nassib’s donation when he came out.

“The Raiders are proud to match Carl’s generous donation to support the Trevor Project and the important work this organization is doing to serve the LGBTQ community,” said Las Vegas Raiders President Dan Ventrelle in a statement. “Diversity, equality, and inclusion are core values of the Las Vegas Raiders, and we appreciate the effort that both Carl and the Trevor Project have put toward advancing these principles.”

Nassib called the Raiders’ matching donation “incredible. I never expected them to match it and I think it’s beautiful.”

Also appearing in the Raiders’ video was fullback Alec Ingold, who spoke about his reaction to his teammate coming out as gay.

“My initial reaction was ‘Wow, good for him,’” Ingold said. “And then it started to sink in about how massive that was for so many other people looking for that voice, that blueprint. And for Carl to have the courage to do that, it took a little bit to sink in on the magnitude of what he did.”

As the first openly gay player on an NFL roster, Nassib’s 2021 season was a success (Pro Football Focus’ metrics say Nassib was the fifth-highest rated Raiders defensive player). His orientation was a nonissue after the initial flurry of media attention and he was productive on the field.

Nassib’s NFL future is up in the air, as it is for hundreds of players with the free agency period looming. He is entering the third year of a $25 million contract (with about $17 million guaranteed). He is due to make a base salary of $7.75 million and with a new coaching staff and general manager on the Raiders, he could be released. But given his performance in 2021, he would likely get an offer from other teams. And the cool thing is that he can do it without ever having to come out again.

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