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Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib comes out

Carl Nassib playing for the Cleveland Browns during a game in 2018.
Photo: Erik Drost

Carl Nassib, a defensive lineman for the Las Vegas Raiders in the NFL, has come out in an Instagram post.

In his post, the 28-year-old defensive lineman shared that he is gay. He’s poised to become the first athlete to play in a professional game in the NFL while publicly out.

Related: Colton Underwood wishes he had been as “brave” as Michael Sam & came out years ago

In his Instagram post, Nassib included a video and several screenshots of notes from his phone, explaining his decision to share the news now.

“What’s up people, I’m at my house in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” he said in the video. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable getting it off my chest. I really have the best life, I have the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for.”

He noted, “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 one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are just not necessary, but until then I will do my best and my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate.”

Nassib then added, “I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project. They’re an incredible organization, they’re the number one suicide-prevention service for LGBTQ youth in America, and they’re truly doing incredible things.”


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A post shared by Carl Nassib (@carlnassib)

In the screenshots included after the video, Nassib reiterated his words and shared more about his decision to come out and how he plans to move forward.

“Right now, I am sitting in a moment of gratitude and relief. Sadly, I have organized over this moment for the last 15 years. Only until recently, thanks to my family and friends… did it seem possible for me to say publicly and proudly that I’m gay,” he wrote.

“I stand on the shoulders of giants, incredible people who paved the way for me to have this opportunity. I do not know all the history behind our courageous LGBTQ community, but I am eager to learn and to help continue the fight for equality and acceptance.”

He then shared more about his decision to partner with the Trevor Project, especially inspired by the fact that “Studies have shown that all it takes is one accepting adult to decrease the risk of an LGBTQ kid attempting suicide by 40%. Whether you’re a friend, a parent, a coach, or a teammate — you can be that person.”

He asks the media to “give me some space as I navigate this exciting time in my life” and not to “take it personally if I decline an interview or am unable to answer your questions.”

Nassib is the younger brother of former NFL quarterback Ryan Nassib. Ryan was a standout at Syracuse and became a backup for New York Giants, New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars, and only attempted ten NFL passes.

Carl had to walk on at Penn State University, and did not make the field for two years. By his senior year, he was starting and a standout, winning the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award in 2015.

He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2016. He would become a starter by his second season, but was waived by the tumultuous team after the 2017 season. He went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he doubled as a defensive end and outside linebacker. He set career highs in tackles for loss and sacks in his first season with the team.

In 2020, he signed with the Raiders, who were just moving to Las Vegas from Oakland. His contract was for three years and $25 million.

Carl has recorded 20.5 sacks, 147 combined tackles, and 3 forced fumbles in five professional seasons.

While other NFL players have come out before, during, or after their career, none have taken the field while being publicly out. Ryan K. Russell, who played for the Buccaneers in addition to the Dallas Cowboys, came out in August 2019, after an injury had sidelined him. He hopes to return to the NFL, but had yet to take the field since.

Michael Sam came out in 2014, right before being drafted by the St. Louis Rams that August. He was cut before the season began.

Other former NFL players such as Ryan O’Callaghan, Colton Underwood, and Wade Davis have come out since their playing careers.

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