Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib on Monday became the first active NFL player to come out as gay.
Nassib, who is entering his sixth NFL season and second with the Raiders, announced the news on Instagram, saying he wasn’t doing it for the attention but because he felt representation and visibility were important.
“I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Nassib said in his video message from his home in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”
Nassib added in a written message that followed the video that he “agonized over this moment for the last 15 years” and only recently decided to go public with his sexuality after receiving the support of family and friends.
Nassib, whose announcement came during Pride Month, added that he was donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit that seeks to prevent suicides among LGBTQ youth.
“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said 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.”
Nassib’s announcement also was greeted by Brian Burke, president of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. Burke has been a major proponent of LGBTQ rights for more than a decade since his late son Brendan came out as gay.
“Proud to support Carl and his decision to come out as the first active gay player in the NFL,” Burke said. “I hope other sports executives will join me in publicly expressing their support as well.”
The Raiders showed their support, writing, “Proud of you, Carl,” on their repost of Nassib’s message on Twitter and adding a black heart emoji.
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, tweeted: “Our union supports Carl and his work with the Trevor Project is proof that he like our membership is about making his community and this world a better place not for themselves, but for others.”
Penn State coach James Franklin said he and his wife Fumi were inspired by Nassib’s announcement to donate $10,000 to the Trevor Project.
“I am very proud of Carl for his courage and voice,” Franklin said. “This announcement doesn’t surprise me because if you know Carl, you know his strength. Carl’s story continues to add chapters which will have an impact well beyond the field of play.”
Nassib led the nation with 15 1/2 sacks in 2015, Franklin’s second season in State College, and he was a cornerstone of the program’s path back to contention.