After undergoing what he describes as an agonizing 15-year wait, Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib became the first active player in NFL history to come out as gay. Nassib follows in the footsteps of former Rams defensive end Michael Sam, who never played in a regular-season game after becoming the first openly gay player to be selected in the NFL Draft in 2014.
Entering his sixth season in the NFL, Nassib broke the news on his Instagram account Monday afternoon. He also announced that he was donating $100,000 to The Trevor Project, a confidential crisis support service for LGBTQ youth.
"Just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I'm gay," Nassib said. "I've been meaning to do this for a while now, but I 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 could ask for.
"I'm a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know I'm not really 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 just not necessary. But until then, I'm going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that's accepting, that's compassionate."
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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. The team was quick to show its support, with the Raiders tweeting "Proud of you, Carl" alongside the defensive ends' statement.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell offered his support of Nassib in a statement issued Monday night.
"The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously showing his truth today," Goodell wrote. "Representation matters. We share his hope that someday soon statements like this 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."
Along with thanking his family and friends, Nassib also thanked the NFL, coaches and players for their support while feeling "the utmost respect and acceptance." And while he wants to serve as a beacon of light for the LGBTQ community, Nassib added that he remained focused on helping the Raiders have a successful 2021 campaign.
"I am a lanky walk-on who is living his dream," Nassib wrote on Instagram. "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. Happy Pride Month and Go Raiders."