Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib has come out as gay, making him the first currently active N.F.L. player to do so. “I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Nassib said in a self-shot video posted to his Instagram account on Monday afternoon. He also pledged to donate $100,000 to The Trevor Project, a nonprofit that provides suicide prevention services for LGBTQ+ youth.
In an accompanying written statement, the 28-year-old admitted that he had struggled with the decision to come out for the past 15 years. “I feel especially thankful to have had so much support when many who came before — and many even now — do not. I stand on the shoulders of giants, incredible people who paved the way for me to have this opportunity,” he wrote.
One of those giants, of course, is Michael Sam. The former pro footballer came out in 2014 after playing college ball for the Missouri Tigers. Sam was later drafted by the St. Louis Rams, making him the NFL’s first openly gay draft pick. Though he never played a regular season NFL game, Sam unquestionably paved the way for Nassib to come out.
Carl Nassib thank you for owning your truth and especially your donation to the @TrevorProject. LBGTQ people are more likely to commit suicide than heterosexuals. I hope and pray people will take note to this. Thank you again Carl and look forward to seeing you play on the field.
— Michael Sam (@MichaelSam52) June 22, 2021
“Carl Nassib thank you for owning your truth and especially your donation to the @TrevorProject,” Sam, who retired from football in 2015, tweeted. “LBGTQ people are more likely to commit suicide than heterosexuals. I hope and pray people will take note to this. Thank you again Carl and look forward to seeing you play on the field.”
Nassib’s announcement has been met with widespread support on social media and from sports journalists — though, as Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina has pointed out, so far the bigger names in the league, including Nassib’s teammates, haven’t publicly voiced their support. Still, no less a force in football than NFL commissioner Roger Goodell took to twitter to congratulate Nassib. “The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” Goodell’s statement read. “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.”
— NFL (@NFL) June 22, 2021