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Raiders’ Carl Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

Carl Nassib has become the first active NFL player to come out as gay, making the announcement in a video posted to Instagram on Monday.

“I’m at my house here in West Chester, Pennsylvania,” said Nassib, a defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders. “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 enough to get it off my chest. I really have the best life, I’ve got the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for.”

In the video, which comes during Pride Month, he continued: “I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope that like one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are not necessary, but until then I am gonna do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting that’s compassionate.”

Nassib, 28, also announced a $100,000 donation to the Trevor Project, which works to prevent suicides among LGBTQ+ youth in America.

Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, applauded Nassib’s bravery in a statement. “The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today. Representation matters,” Goodell said. The Raiders tweeted: “Proud of you, Carl.”

In an additional written statement posted alongside his video, Nassib wrote: “Sadly, I have agonized over this moment for the last 15 years. Only until recently, thanks to my family and friends … 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. I feel especially thankful to have had so much support when many who came before – and many even now – do not.”

NFL players and coaches were quick to welcome Nassib’s announcement. “I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden told ESPN. Meanwhile, the New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkley, who played alongside Nassib in college at Penn State, tweeted: “Much respect brudda”.

Former players also hailed the announcement. Hall of fame quarterback Warren Moon tweeted: “Really proud of Carl Nassib. The first active football player to ever do so. I played with several guys who never were comfortable enough to go public. They were great teammates, & obviously very talented.”

Entering his sixth NFL season, Nassib was a third-round draft pick in 2016 by the Cleveland Browns. He spent two seasons with the Browns (2016-17), followed by two with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2018-19) before signing a three-year, $25.3m contract, including nearly $16.8m in guarantees, with the Raiders in March 2020.

In 73 career games (37 starts), Nassib has 143 tackles (36 for loss), 20.5 sacks, 16 passes defensed, one interception, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Nassib is on track to become the first openly gay player to play in a regular-season game. The defensive end Michael Sam came out as gay in 2014 before the St Louis Rams drafted him, but he did not make the final roster.

“I hope everyone can understand that I am just one person,” Nassib concluded. “I am a lanky walk-on who is living his dream. I owe it to my team, coaches and Raider fans to be completely locked in and at my best for the upcoming season. Thank you everyone for your support. Happy Pride Month and Go Raiders.”