In a historic moment, Jacksonville Jaguars assistant strength and conditioning coach Kevin Maxen has come out, becoming the NFL’s first male coach to publicly identify as gay.
“I don’t want to feel like I have to think about it anymore,” Maxen said in an interview with Outsports. “I don’t want to feel like I have to lie about who I am seeing, or why I am living with someone else.”
The first woman and gay person to coach in a Super Bowl, Sowers said: “Retired from coaching in the NFL? Nah.”
Maxen explained that his decision to come out had a lot to do with his relationship with boyfriend Nick. The couple have been together for over two years, and Maxen said he wanted to introduce Nick to his colleagues just like any other coach.
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“You have other coaches who have significant others, and they’re talking about their significant others,” he said. “And I felt guilty that I couldn’t do the same thing, that I was letting myself down.”
“For a while I had such an anger for myself and hatred that I thought was from a fear of what others might think about who I am,” he added. “But that wasn’t it. It was an anger and hatred of myself because I put myself in a life where I was living by other people’s rules and not by my own. And I was right to be angry at myself for thinking that I had to live in the image of anyone else.”
As Outsports notes, several female assistant NFL coaches have come out publicly prior to Maxen, while WNBA coach Curt Miller came out in 2015. But Maxen is the first male coach in major American men’s professional sports to come out as gay.
“I want to be vocal in support of people living how they want to live,” Maxen said, “But I also want to just live and not feel fear about how people will react.”
According to ESPN.com, Jaguars owner Shad Khan, who was a vocal supporter of a 2017 Jacksonville, Florida city ordinance expanding nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, fully supports Maxen.
“Kevin is a Jacksonville Jaguar through and through, and a key member of our football team and community,” Khan said in a statement. “I look forward to seeing Kevin next week at training camp, and hope that he comes to work each day during camp and through the season feeling confident, free and at peace. I know our players and staff feel the same.”