Representation Matters': Carl Nassib Makes History as First Active NFL Player to Come Out as Gay, Donates 100K to Trevor Project

Jason A. Michael

The Pride Month announcements keep coming, and this one's especially powerful and historic: Las Vegas Raiders player Carl Nassib came out today. The Raiders lineman made the announcement via Instagram, positioning him as the first active NFL player to ever come out as gay.

"I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I'm gay," Nassib said in a video post he shot outside his house in Pennsylvania. "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," Nassib continued. "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."

This fall will mark the start of Nassib's sixth season in the NFL. This will be his second season with the Raiders, who signed him to a three-year, $25 million contract. Previously, he played two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then two with the Cleveland Browns.

Nassib said he couldn't have come out without the league's support.

"I would not have been able to do this without them. From the jump, I was greeted with the utmost respect and acceptance. I truly love my life and cannot understand why I have been blessed this much. I feel especially thankful to have had so much support when many who came before — and many even now — do not."

One of those who came before was Michael Sam, who was poised in 2014 to be the first active NFL player to be openly gay, having come out before the draft. Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams but was dropped from the team before the official season began. He was also a Dallas Cowboy for the briefest of time but again played in no games.

While Sam said at the time that the league was not ready, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell greeted Nassib's news with great enthusiasm.

"The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today," 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."