Raiders’ Nassib is the first openly gay active NFL player

Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib (94) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib posted on his Instagram today that he is gay, becoming the first openly gay active NFL player in the league’s history. He said the announcement was long overdue and appropriately picked Pride Month to come out.

He said, “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 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 can ask for. I’m a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know that I’m really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope that like 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 my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project. They’re an incredible organization and they’re the No. 1 suicide prevention service for the LBTQ youth in American and they’re truly doing incredible things and I’m very excited to be a part of it to be in any way that I can and I’m really pumped to see what the future holds.”

Carl Nassib Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib (94) against the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Immediately after posting his Instagram video, the team and former college teammate Saquon Barkley, a star running back for the New York Giants, tweeted out support for Nassib’s historic coming out as the first openly gay active NFL player.

The team tweeted out, “Proud of you, Carl” with a heart emoji, while Barkley wrote, “Much respect brudda.” The Raiders tweet included a statement from Nassib that talked about how he has agonized about coming out for the last 15 years.

Nassib has played in the NFL for six seasons, having been drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the third round of the 2016 draft out of Penn State. He played two seasons in Cleveland and then two more with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the Raiders signed him to a three-year, $25 million deal in 2020.

In his first season with the Raiders, Nassib had 17 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one interception. He is expected to be in the mix among a number of defensive end options in a position group that has been revamped during free agency.

The NFL also posted a tweet supporting his decision to come out as the first openly gay active NFL player.

First openly gay active NFL player, but not first ever to come out

While Nassib is the first openly gay active NFL player, there have been others before him that have come out after their playing days were done. Those include Ryan O’Callagahan, Esera Tuaolo and Jerry Smith. Michael Sam came out during his college career, but was never on an NFL roster during the regular season.

Outsport.com wrote there have been 15 gay or bisexual football players in the history of the NFL. Former Raider and Chief Kwame Harris (2003-08) was also on this list.

With Nassib coming out as the first openly gay active NFL player, it’s uncertain if others will follow suit.