Watch: Carl Nassib Says He Would Have Come Out Sooner, but Feared for His Career

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday October 1, 2021

Carl Nassib made headlines when he became the first active NFL player to come out of the closet as gay. But in a recent interview, the Las Vegas Raiders defensive end admitted he didn't come out as soon as he would have liked because he was afraid of how it might affect his career.

Nassib made the admission during an appearance on fellow Raiders player Darren Waller's podcast, "Comeback Stories," TMZ reported.

Nassib discussed how he had mulled the timing of coming out. "I wasn't really trying to, like, break any barriers or stuff like that," Nassib said to Waller. "Coming out as gay was something that for a while I wanted to do — I just wanted to wait for the right moment. I wanted to do it actually with the Raiders, but 2020 was such a mess."

Nassib went on to say, "I didn't know anybody on the team; I didn't have a vibe for it, so I didn't feel comfortable enough to do it. I wanted to make sure that, like, the guys I went to work with every single day were good dudes — were, you know, accepting dudes."

"I didn't know how people would react," Nassib recounted, according to Sport Bible. "I wanted to make sure I was financially stable before I did it. I didn't know if it would ruin my career. I didn't know if guys would be supportive or not."

"I didn't do it to break barriers," Nassib reiterated. "I did it because I felt an obligation to the LGBTQ community to bring representation and visibility to a very, very popular entertainment business and industry that doesn't have a lot of representation."

The 28-year-old also said he doesn't want to "be a voice" for gay people. "I just want to, like, lead through my actions," he said. "To anybody out there who's struggling, I've got your back."

Nassib spilled a little tea about his personal life during the interview, mentioning that he now has a boyfriend.

"I met an awesome guy," TMZ quoted him as saying."He's the best."

Nassib came out in an Instagram post on June 21. "I just want to take a quick moment to say that I'm gay," he announced in the post.

Before Nassib's coming out, Michael Sam was the closest the NFL had to an openly gay active player. Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2014, but the Rams released him before the regular season began.

Despite Nassib's fears, his career was not derailed. He became the first out gay player to participate in a regular season game when he helped lead the Raiders to victory against the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 13.

"With the Raiders and Baltimore Ravens battling it out in overtime," USA Today Sports reported, "Nassib caused a fumble — with a strip-sack of Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson — that set up the Raiders' game-winning touchdown in a thrilling, 33-27 victory."

Watch the interview with Nassib below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.