Sports | June 22, 2021 8:40 am

Roger Goodell: “NFL Family Is Proud” of Las Vegas Raiders DL Carl Nassib Coming Out as Gay

Nassib made NFL history as the first active player to announce he is gay

Carl Nassib of the Raiders
Carl Nassib of the Raiders flexes before a 2020 game in Las Vegas.
Ethan Miller/Getty

On Monday, Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay when he made an announcement via Instagram. Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL family “is proud” of the Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman for sharing his sexuality.

“What’s up people,” Nassib said in part on Instagram. “I’m at my house in West Chester, 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, but until then I will do my best and my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting.”

A sixth-year pro who was drafted in the third round out of Penn State with the 65th overall pick by the Browns, Nassib played two seasons for Cleveland and two for Tampa Bay before joining the Raiders in 2020.

Goodell later issued the following statement in support of Nassib’s announcement.

“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” Goodell wrote in a statement. “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.”

If you don’t remember 28-year-old Nassib, who has 20.5 sacks in 73 career games to go along with 143 combined tackles (97 of which are solo), for his play on the field, you may recall him from HBO’s Hard Knocks, where he gave his former teammates on the Browns advice about compound interest and getting 10% returns on their taxes.

As part of his announcement, Nassib said he is donating $100,000 to The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth.

“This is a long-anticipated day in the NFL; not for Nassib’s announcement, specifically, but for the day an active player would feel comfortable enough to come out publicly,” according to The Athletic senior NFL writer Lindsay Jones. “For all of the progress that’s been made toward inclusion in the league in recent years, there is still an underlying tone of homophobia, and questions about how a gay player would be received in the locker room. Nassib’s announcement won’t immediately change that, but he is now a trailblazer, and the overwhelmingly positive initial response to his announcement could help other LGBTQ+ individuals in the NFL follow his lead.”

In addition to Goodell, other members of the NFL community, including fellow Nittany Lions alum and Giants running back Saquon Barkley, offered their support for Nassib.

There have obviously been gay players before Nassib, but none have come out while active in the league. Nine-year NFL defensive tackle Esera Tuaolo came out three years after his final game in 2002, and former Chiefs and Patriots offensive lineman Ryan O’Callaghan came out in 2017 after retiring from football in 2011. Ex-defensive end and current free agent Ryan Russell came out as bisexual in 2019 and wanted to stay active in the league, but has not been able make a roster since going public about his sexual preferences.

Former University of Missouri standout defensive end Michael Sam was the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL when the Rams picked him in 2014, but he did not make the club’s final roster and never played in a regular-season game in the NFL.

If Nassib makes the team and plays next season for the Raiders, he’ll be the second openly gay player to appear in a game in one of the for traditional major sports leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball) in the U.S. Former NBA player Jason Collins, who announced he was gay in a 2014 Sports Illustrated article following the 2012-13 regular season, became the first when he played in a 2014 NBA game as a member of the Brooklyn Nets.