“I do not know all of the history behind our courageous LGBT community, but I am eager to learn and to help continue the fight for equality and acceptance.”
Carl Nassib, the inaugural openly gay active NFL player, garnered attention in 2021 when he publicly revealed his sexual orientation while playing as a defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders. Born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, into a family deeply passionate about football, Nassib's familial ties to the sport were significant, with both his father and older brother having football backgrounds. Excelling in various sports during high school, including football, basketball, and track and field, Nassib's exceptional achievements fueled his aspiration of becoming a professional athlete.
In 2011, Nassib enrolled at Penn State University, initially trying out for the football team as a walk-on. However, it wasn't until 2013, after earning an athletic scholarship, that he gained regular playtime under the coach's direction. Nassib swiftly demonstrated his prowess on the field, ultimately earning a spot in the starting lineup during his senior year. This exceptional performance led to his reception of the Lombardi Award for the best college football linebacker, as well as the Hendricks Award for the nation's top defensive end. He was also honored as the Big Ten's Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year.
In 2016, Nassib inked a four-year, $3.2 million contract with the Cleveland Browns as a third-round draft pick. Following a highly successful debut game, he received a nomination for Pepsi's NFL Rookie of the Week. Later, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers acquired Nassib through waivers for the remaining two years of his contract, before the Las Vegas Raiders picked him up in 2020 as an unrestricted free agent.
During Pride Month in June 2021, Nassib chose to publicly disclose his sexual orientation via an Instagram post. Despite harboring concerns about potential repercussions on his career, Nassib felt compelled to serve as a role model for LGBTQ youth. In his announcement, he committed $100,000 to the Trevor Project, an organization devoted to offering counseling and suicide prevention services to at-risk LGBTQ youth. Notably, the NFL matched Nassib's generous donation.
Following an exceptional 2021 season, Nassib became the inaugural openly gay NFL player to participate in the playoffs. In 2022, he secured a one-year contract to play once again with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In September 2023, Nassib announced his retirement, intending to shift his focus towards his venture, Rayze, a "positive" social media platform designed to assist nonprofits. He remains a staunch supporter of the Trevor Project and continues to advocate for LGBTQ rights. Nassib is currently in a relationship with Soren Dahl, an accomplished Olympic swimmer.