Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive end Carl Nassib said on Monday he was gay, making him the first active National Football League player to come out publicly.
“I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Nassib, 28, said in a video he posted to Instagram. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest,” he said.
His announcement, which comes during Pride month, was greeted with support from the league and his team, which praised his courage.
“I hope that one day videos like this and the whole coming out process are just not necessary,” Nassib said.
In 2014, Michael Sam became the first openly gay player drafted to the NFL when he was selected by the St. Louis Rams but was later cut and never played in a regular season game in the league.
In an effort to cultivate a more accepting and compassionate culture, Nassib said he was donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention service for LGBT+ youth in the United States.
After Nassib’s video made headlines on Monday, the player took to social media again to express his “gratitude and relief.”
“Sadly, I have agonized over this moment for the last 15 years,” he said before thanking the league, his coaches and fellow players for their support.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he too hoped that one day, players saying they were gay would no longer be newsworthy.
“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” Goodell said in a statement.
The Raiders also voiced their support for Nassib. “Proud of you, Carl,” the team posted on Twitter.
Nassib played at Penn State before being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the third round of the 2016 draft. He played for the Browns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before signing with the Raiders ahead of the 2020 season.
A handful of former NFL players have come out after they retired beginning with running back David Kopay, who said he was gay in 1975.
Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Cooney