(CNN) — Carl Nassib, a defensive lineman with the Las Vegas Raiders, became the first active NFL player in league history to announce that he is gay.
“What’s up, people,” Nassib said Monday in a video on Instagram. “I’m Carl Nassib. I’m at my house here in Westchester, Pennsylvania. I 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.”
Nassib, 28, has played five years with three teams and is entering his second season with the Raiders. He said in a statement accompanying the video that he had agonized over the decision to announce he was gay for 15 years.
Nassib added that he was a private person and wasn’t seeking publicity.
“I just think that representation and visibility are so important,” he said. “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 and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell lauded the announcement.
“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” Goodell said. “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.”
The defensive end was drafted out of Penn State by the Cleveland Browns in the third round of the 2016 NFL draft. He played for the Browns from 2016-2017, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018 and 2019 and was signed by the Raiders as an unrestricted free agent on March 23, 2020.
Nassib said he was donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth.
Jason Collins, who became the first openly gay NBA player when he suited up for the Brooklyn Nets in 2014, was cheering Nassib on social media.
“Very proud of Carl Nassib! Incredibly happy for him and can’t wait to watch him play this upcoming season!” he tweeted.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said Nassib’s announcement was “a strong message.”
“Carl Nassib’s powerful coming out is a historic reflection of the growing state of LGBTQ visibility and inclusion in the world of professional sports, which has been driven by a long list of brave LGBTQ athletes who came before him,” said Ellis in a statement. “As an accomplished athlete who is now the first out gay active player in the NFL, Carl Nassib’s story will not only have a profound impact on the future of LGBTQ visibility and acceptance in sports, but sends a strong message to so many LGBTQ people, especially youth, that they too can one day grow up to be and succeed as a professional athlete like him.”
The Penn State athletics department tweeted: “Nittany Nation is so proud of you, Carl.”
Michael Sam came out before 2014 draft
In 2014, Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be selected in the NFL draft when the St. Louis Rams chose him in the seventh round as the 249th overall pick. The Rams cut Sam just before the season started.
Sam signed with the Dallas Cowboys practice squad but never was on the active roster. He was cut after six weeks.
In 2015, he appeared in one game with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League before leaving the team.