STATE COLLEGE – Former Penn State player and current Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib on Monday publicly announced he is gay.
Nassib, who played at Penn State through the 2015 season, used Instagram to share his announcement.
“Hey everyone, happy Pride Month,” Nassib said in part on Instagram. “Right now, I am sitting in a moment of gratitude and relief. Sadly, I have agonized over this moment for the last 15 years. Only until recently, thanks to my family and friends, especially Connor, Cason, and Francis, did it seem possible for me to say publicly and proudly that I am gay.”
Nassib also shared he will donate $100,000 to the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization "focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth."
According to SB Nation’s Outsports, Nassib is the NFL’s first openly active gay player to have played in a game.
“No openly active gay or bi player has ever played a down in an NFL regular season game,” wrote Outsports’ Jim Buzinski. “There have been 15 players who came out after playing, or in the case of Michael Sam in 2014, was out after being drafted but never made a roster.”
Nassib is a West Chester native, and he played at Malvern Preparatory School before joining the Nittany Lions as a walk-on player during the 2011 season. He was eventually awarded a scholarship in 2012.
Nassib notched his first collegiate start as a senior during the 2015 season, and he ended that year with a program-best 15.5 sacks to go with 46 total tackles and six forced fumbles. Nassib was recognized as the team’s Most Valuable Player on defense in 2015.
Nassib played in 10 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2013, and he played in 13 contests a year later as a redshirt junior. He accumulated 64 total tackles, 17.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles as a Nittany Lion. Nassib claimed the Lombardi Award – given to the country’s top lineman/linebacker – as a senior. In 2015, he also earned distinction as the nation’s Ted Hendricks Award winner, bestowed upon the best defensive end in the country.
"I am very proud of Carl for his courage and voice," Penn State coach James Franklin said in a statement. "This announcement doesn’t surprise me because if you know Carl, you know his strength. Carl’s story continues to add chapters which will have an impact well beyond the field of play."
Franklin also said he his wife, Fumi, will donate $10,000 to the Trevor Project.
"Carl’s brave announcement will forge a path for others to be true to their authentic self," Franklin said. "I was proud of Carl when he led the nation in sacks, but I’m even more proud of him now."
The Cleveland Browns drafted Nassib during the third round of the 2016 NFL draft, and he was waived by the franchise in 2018.
In September 2018, Tampa Bay claimed Nassib off of waivers. He remained with the Buccaneers until 2019 when he signed with the Raiders.
“I truly love my life and cannot understand why I have been blessed with so much,” Nassib wrote. I feel especially thankful to have had so much support when many who have come before me – 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. I do not know all the history behind our courageous LGBTQ community, but I am eager to learn and to help continue the fight for equality and acceptance.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday applauded Nassib’s courage and his announcement.
“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” read Goodell’s statement. “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.”
Click to read and listen to Nassib’s message in full.