Carl Nassib, a former Penn State star who made headlines by becoming the first openly gay active NFL player, has announced his retirement after seven seasons.
The NFL’s Twitter account reported the news Wednesday morning.
The defensive end/linebacker earned All-American honors with the Nittany Lions. Drafted in the third round by the Cleveland Browns, Nassib had his best seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018 and 2019, starting 17 games and recording 12.5 sacks.
DL Carl Nassib announces his retirement from the NFL after a 7-year career. He was the first openly gay active player in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/tdirCw2tYw
— NFL (@NFL) September 6, 2023
Yet his legacy lies in his off-field status as the first openly gay active NFL player. During Pride Month in June 2021, Nassib admitted he was gay in an Instagram video. He committed to donate $100,000 to the Trevor Project, which works to help LGBTQ youth in crisis and suicide prevention.
What history looked like just now on ESPN. pic.twitter.com/7UhP64n2TP
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) June 21, 2021
Nassib’s admission led to instant notoriety, not all of it comfortable for the young player. Sales of his NFL jerseys and T-shirts briefly spiked among the NFL’s best-selling merchandise.
It’s worth noting that former Missouri star Michael Sam was actually the first openly gay player with a shot in the NFL, although he never made it off the St. Louis Rams or Dallas Cowboys practice squads.
As one Twitter user noted about Nassib, “He was a trailblazer in this sport. Don’t judge and you won’t be judged, because everyone has the right to exist on different level. Happy retirement, Carl.”
He was a trailblazer in this sport. Don’t judge and you won’t be judged, because everyone has the right to exist on different level. Happy retirement, Carl.
— MYST Faded (@fadedmxstery) September 6, 2023