Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay and says ‘I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest’
- Nassib, 28, made the announcement on Instagram on Monday
- The defensive end becomes the first openly gay NFL star in the sport’s history
- He made his announcement during Pride Month, ending 15 years of secrecy
- The Las Vegas Raiders star said he ‘truly loves life’ and is happy and relieved
- He thanked his family, friends, coaches and teammates for their support
- He also announced a $100,000 donation to The Trevor Project for LGBTQ youth
NFL star Carl Nassib has become the first professional player to come out as gay.
Nassib, a defensive end with the Las Vegas Raiders, made the announcement on Instagram on Monday.
‘What’s up people, I’m Carl Nassib, and I’m at my house here in Westchester, Pennsylvania,’ he said.
‘I just want to take a quick moment to say I’m gay.
‘I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.
Carl Nassib made the announcement on Instagram on Monday
Nassib, pictured playing for the Raiders against the Denver Broncos in November, has become the first professional football player to come out as gay
The 28-year-old is seen in September 2019, when he played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He signed with the Las Vegas Raiders in March 2020
He said he felt he had ‘the best family, friends, and job a guy could ask for’.
He said he was a private person, who was not doing it for attention or publicity.
‘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,’ he said.
‘Until then, I am going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that is accepting and compassionate.’
He said he was donating $100,000 to The Trevor Project, to help LGBTQ youth in America.
He said they were ‘an incredible organization’ and the number one group for suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth.
‘I’m very excited to be a part of it in any way I can.
‘I’m really pumped to see what the future holds,’ he concluded.
Nassib then posted a lengthy statement to Instagram, describing it as ‘a moment of gratitude and relief’ and thanking the NFL, his coaches and fellow players.
He said he was ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ to make his announcement, and said it was something he had agonized over for 15 years.
Nassib said: ‘I truly love my life.’
A graduate of Penn State university, Nassib was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
In September 2018 he was claimed via waivers by Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Nassib was signed by Las Vegas Raiders as an unrestricted free agent in March 2020.
Nassib’s announcement was largely celebrated online.
The official NFL Twitter account shared his news, saying: ‘The NFL family is proud of you, Carl.’
His team, the Raiders, echoed their remarks, saying: ‘Proud of you, Carl.’
‘Big ups to Carl Nassib,’ said Eric Crocker, 34, a cornerback with the New York Jets.
‘That’s got to be tough. Holding in something like that for so long.’
Cyd Zeigler, a commentator and co-founder of Outsports and the National Gay Flag Football League, said that Nassib’s bravery would open doors for others.
‘So many tears right now. So many thoughts. So much joy,’ he said.
Football fans celebrated his groundbreaking announcement.
‘There’s a fantastic, supportive reaction to Carl Nassib coming out,’ noted one.
‘Hopefully this is now the start of players coming forward to say who they are, as opposed to false impressions.’
Another noted that Nassib looked so happy as he made his announcement, ending years of secrecy.
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.
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.
In August 2019, NFL free agent Ryan Russell came out as bisexual, saying he hopes to return to the league, but only if he can be honest with ‘teammates, coaches, trainers, front-office executives and fans’ about his real identity.
‘I want the next team to sign me valuing me for what I do and knowing who I truly am,’ Russell wrote in a piece for ESPN.
He announced that he is in a relationship with professional dancer Corey O’Brien and the two have launched their own YouTube channel.
For the last four years, Russell said, he was scared that coming out as bisexual could adversely affect his career, and those fears nearly came to fruition in 2016 when a ‘well-known blogger’ threatened to expose him.
‘If the blogger outed me, I was sure that would kill my career, one that was supporting not just me, but my mother and grandfather,’ wrote Russell.
‘He’d eradicate a childhood dream that was the product of years of work and sacrifice.’
Ultimately, at the urging of Russell, the blogger agreed to conceal his secret.
NFL free agent Ryan Russell came out as bisexual in August as he tried to make his way back into the league because he no longer wants to lie to ‘teammates, coaches, trainers, front-office executives and fans’ about his real identity
A professional dancer named Corey O’Brien posted a picture of he and Russell on a beach, with a caption reading: ‘This man is the top headline on @espn this morning for speaking his truth as a player in the NFL and as my boyfriend. I couldn’t be more proud. #NFL’
The 27-year-old Russell’s career has been somewhat unremarkable for an NFL player.
A defensive end who played at collegiate level at Purdue, Russell was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. A year later he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad, doing well enough to eventually get a promotion to the active roster.
He made seven starts in 2017, but he suffered a severe shoulder injury and was not re-signed.
Outside of brief training camp stint with the Buffalo Bills, Russell has been out of the NFL, more or less, for the last two seasons.
His desire to play in the NFL has not changed, but Russell does regret hiding himself over his three years in the league.
‘Withholding information is a form of deceit,’ he wrote. ‘And I want the next part of my career – and life – steeped in trust and honesty.
‘Today, I have two goals: returning to the NFL, and living my life openly,’ he continued.
‘I want to live my dream of playing the game I’ve worked my whole life to play, and being open about the person I’ve always been.
‘Those two objectives shouldn’t be in conflict. But judging from the fact that there isn’t a single openly LGBTQ player in the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball or the NHL, brings me pause.
‘I want to change that – for me, for other athletes who share these common goals, and for the generations of LGBTQ athletes who will come next.’
Former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Ryan Russell (left) has come out as bisexual as both he and boyfriend Corey O’Brien (right), a dancer, launch their own YouTube channel
Russell has written a book of poems since being cut by the Buffalo Bills in 2018. His close friend and Purdue teammate Joe Gilliam passed away from cancer one year ago
Ryan Russell recorded a pair of sacks in 2017 while making seven starts for the Buccaneers
Russell’s announcement comes as former New England Patriots offensive tackle Ryan O’Callaghan is promoting his new book about being a closeted gay man in the NFL.
As O’Callaghan recently told Reuters, the league has many homosexuals, but gay players stay in the closet because they fear negative ramifications for their careers.
That’s why Russell was so terrified when someone he described as a ‘well-known blogger’ messaged him while he was still in the NFL to ask if he was gay.
He had confided his sexuality to close friends and family, and even began dating men discretely.
But even that limited level of openness posed a problem when that blogger started piecing together information about Russell’s love life on social media.
‘He had come across an Instagram story of a man I was dating that included a quick snippet of me in the background,’ Russell wrote.
‘Even though the man and I were never in a post together, the dates, times and similar locations were enough evidence for the blogger to deduce that we were an item. The blogger could have revealed I was in a gay relationship.
‘I panicked, then wrote back, reminding him that there were implications about his actions he didn’t fully understand,’ Russell continued.
The blogger ultimately agreed to conceal Russell’s secret, but told the 6-foot-5 native Texan that he should be careful.
‘After hearing me out, know what that blogger told me? That he would grant me this favor, but that I should be more careful.’
As NFL veteran Ryan O’Callaghan told Reuters, gay players stay in the closet because, they believe, coming out could cost them sponsorships or even a roster spot. In his upcoming book, ‘My Life on the Line: How the NFL Damn Near Killed Me and Ended Up Saving My Life,’ O’Callaghan shares the exhausting mental game of passing for straight in the NFL
Former San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders offensive tackle Kwame Harris has come out
Retired Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Esera Tuaolo (left) came out of the closet after his retirement. Former SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam (right) struggled to stay in the NFL after coming out as a member of the University of Missouri Tigers
That situation did not sit well with Russell.
‘Nobody should need a favor to live honestly,’ Russell wrote.
‘In nobody’s worlds should being careful mean not being yourself.
‘The career you choose shouldn’t dictate the parts of yourself that you embrace.’
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