NFL

Raiders’ Carl Nassib comes out as gay; is first active NFL player to do so

“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."

John Locher
Carl Nassib has played for the Raiders, Buccaneers and Browns over the course of his career.


Las Vegas defensive lineman Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to announce that he is gay, information that he shared on social media Monday.

“I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” he said in a video posted to his Instagram account. “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.”

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Nassib also announced he wanted to do his part “to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate” and would start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project, a non-profit that works to prevent suicide among LGBTQ youth in the United States.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Carl Nassib (@carlnassib)

Nassib, 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds, has been in the league five seasons, and has 20.5 career sacks. Last year with the Raiders, he played in 14 games and finished with 2.5 sacks.

In the NFL’s history, no out gay player has appeared in a regular-season game.

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam came out as gay ahead of the 2014 draft; he was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the final round but was released by the team before he appeared in a regular-season game.

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In 2017, Ryan O’Callaghan — who was drafted by the Patriots in 2006 and played two seasons in New England — came out as gay after his career ended.

“No one is going to assume the big football player is gay,” he told OutSports at the time. “It’s why a football team is such a good place to hide.”

O’Callaghan acknowledged his struggles as he remained closeted while playing in the NFL, saying that his wish to uphold a certain image conflicted with how he felt internally. He considered suicide and struggled with addiction before coming out — the latter decision one that would help save his life, he wrote in a book published in 2019.

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Last year, O’Callaghan told the Globe that he didn’t think the NFL itself was making it more difficult for athletes to come out as gay, “but the NFL definitely could be doing more.”

O’Callaghan is one of nine former NFL players who have come out as gay after their careers, according to the publication Outsports. He is the only former Patriot.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the NFL, O’Callaghan said it was only a matter of time that an active player would come out.

“Sooner or later, there will be an openly gay player in the NFL,” he said. “It’s going to take someone with a lot of courage.”

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On Monday, Nassib became the first.

Information from previous Globe stories was used in this report.

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