Jacksonville Jaguars coach Kevin Maxen comes out in historic pro sports first

Kevin Maxen, an assistant coach with NFL team Jacksonville Jaguars, wears a black hoodie, jean jacket and jean cap as he walks around outside

Kevin Maxen, an associate strength coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, made sports history as the first male coach in the National Football League (NFL) or any major US men’s professional sports to come out publicly as gay.

Maxen has been a strength and conditioning coach with the Florida-based football team since 2021. Before signing on with the Jaguars, he was a strength coach in the collegiate ranks with Baylor and Vanderbilt.

The 31-year-old told OutSports that he decided to come out because he wanted to be “vocal in support of people living how they want to live”, and he personally wanted to “just live and not feel fear about how people will react”.

“It wasn’t until recently – and with the immense love and support of my family, my friends, colleagues and peers, and the courage and sacrifice from my partner – that I realised I have the right and responsibility to love and be loved, and that maybe sharing this will hopefully give someone else the strength to accept their own life and take control of their own story,” Maxen said. 

The trailblazing coach added he didn’t want to “feel like [he has] to lie” about his relationships before revealing that he’s been with his partner for two and a half years. 

“You have other coaches who have significant others, and they’re talking about their significant others,” Maxen said. “And I felt guilty that I couldn’t do the same thing, that I was letting myself down.

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“I want the person I’m with to be able to share that with me.”

Maxen is the first male coach in the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL to come out as gay, according to the NFL. However, there have been other LGBTQ+ figures in the NFL – and in pro sports more broadly in the US. 

Katie Sowers, a former assistant with the San Francisco 49ers, became the NFL’s first openly gay coach when she came out in 2017. Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) coach Curt Miller, who publicly came out in 2015, is also an openly gay male coach in an American professional sports league.

Kevin Maxen’s announcement comes two years after NFL star Carl Nassib became the league’s first active openly gay player in 2021. The strength coach revealed to OutSports that he reached out to Nassib, who connected him with the LGBTQ+ sports news outlet. 

Maxen also touched on his journey before coming out and what he has learned along the way.

“As a Black Jew who has dated both men and women, who has been a strength coach at the highest level of professional football, I’ve learned that how I look, what I believe in, and especially who I am physically or emotionally attracted to should not impact the way I or other people view my worth,” Maxen said.

“And it should certainly not dictate what I feel I am capable of accomplishing.”

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan told ESPN that Maxen is a “Jacksonville Jaguar through and through” and a “key member” of the team and community. 

“I look forward to seeing Kevin next week at training camp and hope that he comes to work each day during camp and through the season feeling confident, free and at peace,” Khan said. “I know our players and staff feel the same.”

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