Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Karl Nessib became the first active player in the NFL to come out as gay.
“I just wanted to take a quick moment to say I’m gay,” he said. “I’ve been intending to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”
“I truly have the best life, best family, friends, and job any man could ever ask for.”
Nesib added, “I’m a very private person, so I hope you know I’m not doing this for attention. I just think acting and seeing are very important.”
“I really hope that videos like this and the entire directing process are not necessary, but until then I will do my best to cultivate a culture of acceptance and empathy.”
Nesib also said he was donating £100,000 to the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention service for LGBT 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 had reached the point where this wasn’t the case [a prominent news story]. It doesn’t change my opinion of him as a man or a rider.”
In a statement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell added: “The NFL family is proud of Karl for bravely sharing the truth today. Representation is important.
“We share his hope that statements like his will one day will not be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community.”
No openly gay player has ever played a regular NFL game.
Defensive end Michael Sam appeared as gay before being drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2014 and played with them in pre-season, but did not make their final roster.
Former LA Galaxy and USA soccer player Robbie Rogers became the first gay man to play in one of the five major sports leagues in the United States when he came out in February 2013.
Nassib is about to enter his sixth season in the NFL, having been a third-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2016.
He then spent two years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before signing a three-year contract with the Raiders in March 2020.