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Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib became the NFL’s first openly gay active football player on Monday, when he posted a short announcement from his offseason home in West Chester, just outside Philadelphia.
“I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Nassib said, in a video he posted on his verified Instagram account.
Nassib, a 28-year-old who’s been in the league for five years, said he was finally “comfortable getting it off my chest.”
In the 24 hours after he posted the video, Nassib’s Insta following skyrocketed, going from about 40k to more than 260k, according to Action Network. And his new supporters put up money to show it: following his announcement, his No. 94 jersey was the most popular seller across the NFL, according to Fanatics.
“I really have the best life. I’ve got the best family, friends and job a guy could ask for,” he said. “I’m a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know I’m not doing this for attention, but I just think representation and visibility are so important.”
Coming at the height of Pride Month, Nassib’s disclosure garnered outpourings of support from his team — “Proud of you, Carl,” the Raiders tweeted in a statement — as well as from his high school, Malvern Prep.
“As a school community we’ve always been proud to have him as an alumnus,” said Malvern Prep spokesperson Allison Hall, “not only because of his athletic talent, but because he’s also just a wonderful human being. Today more than ever, we support Carl and stand with him.”
Other leaders in his hometown also offered support.
“Your country is proud of you,” Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell tweeted after the news broke.
After Malvern Prep, Nassib played at Penn State with the Nittany Lions, where he won the Big Ten’s defensive player of the year award as a senior in 2015. This year marks his sixth season in the pros, which includes stints with the Cleveland Browns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Local supporters using the hashtag #MalvernPrep also shared support on social media.
In his announcement, Nassib said he would be donating $100,000 to The Trevor Project, a nonprofit group that focuses on suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth.
Nassib is the first active player in the league to come out as gay, but not the NFL’s first queer recruit.
Former University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam came out during the 2014 NFL Draft — making him the first openly gay draft pick when the St. Louis Rams picked him up that spring. Sam practiced with the team before he moved to the Cowboys, but he never played a regular season game.
The NFL, which has worked to show more support for LGBTQ people in recent years, also tweeted in support of Nassib’s announcement.
In his announcement video, Nassib emphasized that he hopes to normalize the coming out process for future players.
Said Nassib: “One day, I hope that videos like this and the whole coming out process are just not necessary.”