The day before the 2023 NFL season kicks off, veteran defensive end Carl Nassib announced his retirement from football.
Nassib, who spent last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was a free agent heading into this season, announced on his Instagram that he is stepping away from the game to focus on his company, Rayze, an online platform that aims to amplify philanthropic work and positive content.
“It really feels like just yesterday starting out as a walk-on at Penn State,” Carl Nassib wrote in his post. “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…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.”
Nassib became the first openly gay active NFL player, announcing so in 2021 when he was playing for the Las Vegas Raiders. He agonized over the decision to make his sexuality public, knowing he would be subjected to hate and scrutiny, especially in the uber-macho environment of football. Nassib decided he wanted to come out on his own terms and provide an example for kids to be comfortable in their own skin.
While the Raiders players were accepting of Nassib and didn’t treat him any differently after his announcement, according to former teammate Derek Carr, Nassib had the misfortune of playing under Jon Gruden during his time in Las Vegas. When it was revealed via leaked emails that Gruden commonly used homophobic and bigoted language, he took a personal day to process the situation. Nassib stayed with the team and helped it clinch a postseason berth for the first time in five years.
A third-round draft pick in 2016 by the Cleveland Browns, Carl Nassib also played three seasons across two stints with the Buccaneers and two seasons with the Raiders. Over 101 games in the regular season and playoffs, he tallied 187 combined tackles, 25.5 sacks, 19 passes defended and an interception.