By Terrance Turner
June 21, 2021
Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out today. He is the first active NFL player in history to do so.
“What’s up, people,” Nassib posted on Instagram. “I’m at my house in Westchester, 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,” he said. “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.”
In the second part of his five-part Instagram post, Nassib wrote: “I have agonized over this moment for the past 15 years. Only until recently, thanks to my family and friends, specifically Connor, Cason, and Francis, did it seem possible for me to say publicly and proudly that I’m 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.”
“I truly love my life and cannot understand why I have been blessed with so much,” Nassib continued. “I feel especially thankful to have had so much support when many who came before — and many even now — do not. I stand on the shoulders of giants, incredible people who paved the way for me to have this opportunity. I do not know all the history behind our courageous LGBTQ community, but I am eager to learn and to help continue the fight for equality and acceptance.”
Nassib elaborated on his support for the Trevor Project: “I was immediately drawn to the Trevor Project when I learned about their mission to provide suicide prevention services to the LGBTQ community. Young LGBTQ kids are over 5x more likely than their straight friends to consider suicide.” Nassib said it saddens him to learn that statistic, but added, “I feel an immense responsibility to help in any way I can — and you can too.”
He cited studies showing that the presence of just one accepting adult can decrease the aforementioned suicide risk by 40%. “Whether you’re a friend, a parent, a coach, or a teammate — you can be that person.”
According to CBS Sports, “Nassib, 28, was the 65th overall pick in the 2016 draft. The former Penn State standout spent his first two seasons with the Browns before signing with the Buccaneers, where he recorded 12.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss over a two-year span. Nassib tallied 28 tackles, 2.5 sacks, five passes defensed and his first career interception during his first season with the Raiders.”
No openly gay player has ever played in a regular-season NFL game. That makes Nassib’s announcement all the more remarkable. He is palpably aware of his unusual position, as evidenced by his caption on Instagram: “I am a lanky walk-on who is living his dream.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell later issued a statement in support of Nassib’s announcement. “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 march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season.”
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was also supportive, as reported by Ian Rapoport.