Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib has become the first active NFL player to come out as gay.
“Just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. 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.
“I really have the best life, the best family, friends and job a guy could ask for.”
Nassib added: “I’m a pretty private person so I hope that 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’m going to do my best to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate.”
Nassib also said he was donating £100,000 to the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention service for LGBTQ youth in America.
Raiders owner Mark Davis told the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “These are personal decisions. It’s 2021, and he’s a Raider. If he’s happy, I’m happy. It takes courage.
“I thought we got to the point where this wasn’t [a prominent news story]. It doesn’t change my opinion of him as a man or as a Raider.”
In a statement, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell added: “The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today. 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.”
No openly gay player has played a regular-season game in the NFL.
Defensive end Michael Sam came out as gay before he was drafted by the St Louis Rams in 2014 and played for them in the pre-season, but did not make their final roster.
Former LA Galaxy and USA footballer Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay man to play in one of the USA’s big five sports leagues when he came out in February 2013.
Nassib is about to enter his sixth season in the NFL, having been a third-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2016.
He then had a two-year spell with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before signing a three-year deal with the Raiders in March 2020.
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