Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib made history on Monday after coming out as the first active openly gay player in the NFL, announcing his sexual orientation in a post on social media.
The 28-year-old five-year veteran said in a video posted on Instagram he hoped his example would boost visibility of other gay athletes.
"I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I'm gay," Nassib said in the video.
"I've been meaning to do this for a while now but finally feel comfortable getting it off my chest. I really have the best life, the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for."
"I'm a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know that I'm not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important."
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"I actually hope that one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are not necessary, but until then I will do my best and my part to cultivate a culture that's accepting and compassionate."
Nassib added that he was donating $100,000 (P4.9 million) to the Trevor Project, a non-profit group which works to prevent suicide among LGBTQ youth in the United States.
In a written post which accompanied the statement, Nassib said he had "agonized over this moment for the last 15 years."
He said support from family, friends, coaches and fellow players encouraged him to come out.
"I would not have been able to do this without them," he said.
'Proud of you'
Nassib is the first player on an active roster to come out as gay in the NFL.
Several players have come out after leaving the league, the most popular professional sport in the United States.
In 2014, college player Michael Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams after coming out as gay but was released after playing in a handful of pre-season games and never played a regular season game in the league.
The Raiders meanwhile praised Nassib in a post on Twitter.
"Proud of you Carl," the team wrote in a post accompanying Nassib's Instagram statement.
Proud of you, Carl ? pic.twitter.com/R9aJxYFefW— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) June 21, 2021
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell saluted Nassib, saying he hoped similar announcements in future would no longer be newsworthy.
"The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today," Goodell said.
"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."
Wade Davis II, one of a handful of former NFL players who came out after leaving the league, was among the first to congratulate Nassib.
"Bravo Carl Nassib -- thank you for inviting us in," Davis wrote on Twitter.
Former basketball player Jason Collins, who became only the second openly gay athlete in a major professional sports league in the United States when he joined the Brooklyn Nets in 2014 also offered support.
"Very proud of Carl Nassib!" Collins wrote on Twitter. "Incredibly happy for him and can't wait to watch him play this upcoming season." (AFP)