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Carl Nassib made queer NFL history. Now he’s stepping away from the game : NPR


Carl Nassib played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2022.

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Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Carl Nassib made history when he became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Now he’s moving on to the next chapter.

Who is he? Nassib was a defensive end in the NFL.

  • Over seven seasons, he played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Las Vegas Raiders and the Cleveland Browns.

What’s the big deal? Nassib shared the big news via Instagram that he would be retiring from the NFL.

  • It was also on Instagram that Nassib came out as gay in 2021, posting a video where he put it simply: “I just want 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 says he will now dedicate himself to his company, Rayze, that seeks to better connect nonprofits to people online.

What are people saying?

Here’s what Nassib wrote in his post on Instagram:

It really feels like just yesterday starting out as a walk-on at Penn State. Football has given me more than I ever could have imagined. I can truly hang up my helmet for the last time knowing I gave it everything I had.

Growing up I loved how fun football was. I loved the pursuit of perfection. I loved the small window where every player has to chase their dreams. It makes it all the more exciting if you get there. It was always my dream to play in the NFL, even as a walk-on, and I really feel like the luckiest guy on the planet.

Big moments like this are a time for gratitude. I want to thank God, my family and my friends for always being there for me even when I didn’t realize it. I want to thank my agent Brian Ayrault. Staying with you to WME was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Brian was the first person in the football industry I came out to and he didn’t blink. He encouraged and motivated me to follow through with my announcement and to make as big of an impact as I possibly could. I want to also thank Jason Licht and John Spytek. These two reignited my career not once … but twice. I was fired twice and they picked me up both times. I played my best football in Tampa and it never would have happened if it wasn’t for those two legends.

Want more on the NFL? Listen to the Consider This episode on why the NFL (still) has a diversity problem.

And here is Jim Buzinski, co-founder of Outsports.com, speaking to NPR in 2021 after Nassib came out about the significance of the moment:

Carl will be the first person you’ll be able to watch on television during a game and say, “Hey, that player is gay.”

And that means so much to every young LGBTQ athlete, whether they play football or another sport, who can now say, “I can do this; if he can do it, I can do it.”

Sports are more accepting. Even though there are certainly a lot of problems still with homophobia in sports, we’ve come a long way. And the reaction to Carl coming out kind of shows that. In many ways, it’s going to be a one- or two-day story because there’s not much more to say about it. He’s gay, so what are you going to do with that other than applaud him?

Carl Nassib will be dedicating himself to his philanthropic app.

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images


Carl Nassib will be dedicating himself to his philanthropic app.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

So, what now?

  • Nassib says he looks forward to working with the NFL on diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as philanthropic efforts in the future.
  • And this is his advice to anyone with a dream of being the best: “Never let anyone convince you it’s impossible. Be the best you can be in everything you do. Work hard, make smart decisions and be kind to others.”

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