Aug. 30 update: All NFL teams have cut their rosters down to the 53-man limit and free agent defensive end Carl Nassib is still not on a team.
If this holds, the league will be without an openly gay player for the first time since 2020. Nassib has not officially retired and could still be signed during the season. As the story below indicates, Nassib is giving every appearance of moving on.
Original story (Aug. 13): The NFL preseason began for all 32 teams this weekend and there are still a lot of free agents on the market. One of them is defensive lineman Carl Nassib, who is technically available but giving signs that he might be done with the NFL.
Nassib, who came out in 2021 as the first openly gay player on a team roster, played for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2022, going to the playoffs both years. But at 30, Nassib is financially secure — with career earnings of $23 million — CEO of a charity startup and in love with his boyfriend. Football seems to be far from his mind.
This is all speculation because Nassib did not respond to a request for comment. Nor has he spoken publicly about his plans and his name has not surfaced in media reports among free agents on teams’ radar. But there are clues as to what might be next.
For starters, Nassib posted Instagram stories from Rome last week (the one in Italy, far from NFL camps) and one from Lake Como, Italy, on Saturday, both with boyfriend Søren Dahl. This is notable because he told Men’s Health last year that the demands of the NFL meant he hadn’t taken a vacation in 10 years.
“I’m not a naturally built guy,” he said. “I have to constantly work out. I haven’t taken a vacation in 10 years, because I can’t miss a week of working out. The NFL is the best athletes in the world with the best work ethic. I can’t take my foot off the gas.”
In addition, he was named to the board of the United Way of Chester County, where he was raised, and identified as the CEO of Rayze, not an NFL player. And he is scheduled to speak as a “financial wellness nerd” at an event for financial advisors in Maryland in October, well into the NFL’s regular season.
At the same time, Nassib has not officially filed retirement papers, so he remains a free agent and available. It is common for free agents to sign with teams even late in a season if injuries decimate a key position. The bottom line is that until Nassib officially retires, he could come back at any point in the season.
Whether Nassib plays or not — either because he is content to move on to the next phase of his life or he can’t strike the right deal with a team — has nothing to do with his being gay.
Any fears about his sexual orientation impacting his play ended in the first regular season game in 2021 and his being gay was a footnote for the season. Last year, he was signed as a free agent by Tampa, making it clear that his career was not negatively impacted by his coming out.
Whether he plays again or not, Nassib’s role as a trail blazer is secure. Of that, there is no doubt.