Carl Nassib, the first openly gay NFL player, retires: ‘I feel like the luckiest guy on the planet’

Carl Nassib wearing a football jersey on the pitch.

The first openly gay professional American Football star, Carl Nassib, has announced his retirement from the NFL.

The 30-year-old defensive end made the announcement in a “bittersweet” post on Wednesday (6 September).

“After seven seasons, and just over 100 NFL games, I am officially retiring from football,” he said. “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.”

Nassib said that the decision was made mainly so he could focus on his social media aggregation company Rayze, which aims to promote more positive content.

However, in an interview with People, the former college football star said that the NFL is interested in maintaining a connection in a yet-to-be-determined role.

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“Growing up, I loved how fun football was,” Nassib said. “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.”

The former Las Vegas Raiders star made history during Pride month in 2021 after he came out as gay in a video posted on Instagram, during which he pledged to donate $100,000 (approximately £71, 500) to the LGBTQ+ youth organisation, The Trevor Project.

In the clip, Nassib said representation and visibility “are so important.” It was later shared on official NFL social media pages.

“I actually hope that, one day, videos like this and the whole coming-out process are just not necessary,” he continued. “But until then, I’m going to do my best and my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate.”

In his most recent post, he thanked his coaches, teammates, trainers and staff members throughout his seven seasons in the game. He also played for the Cleveland Browns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“To anyone who has a dream of being the best, never let anyone convince you it’s impossible,” he said. “Be the best you can be in everything you do.”

The NFL congratulated Nassib for an “inspiring career” in response to the post, while others described him as an “incredible role model.”

Defensive lineman Michael Sam was the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL but only played pre-season games for the St Louis Rams in 2014, before being cut from the roster.