Former Buccaneers, Raiders and Browns LB Carl Nassib announces retirement after 7 seasons

Nassib was the first active NFL player to come out as gay

Carl Nassib played 99 games for three teams from 2016 to 2022. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Carl Nassib played 99 games for three teams from 2016-22. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Carl Nassib announced his retirement from the league Wednesday after seven seasons in the NFL. The veteran linebacker and defensive end called the moment "bittersweet" in an Instagram post and added that leaving the league will allow him to put more focus on his company, Rayze, a social media app that connects nonprofits to donors.

"I can truly hang up my helmet for the last time knowing I gave it everything I had," Nassib wrote. "Growing up I loved how fun football was. 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 third-round pick out of Penn State played from 2016-22 for the Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Las Vegas Raiders. Nassib tallied 187 combined tackles, 25.5 sacks, 59 quarterback hits, 45 tackles for loss, 19 defended passes and four forced fumbles in 99 career games.

Nassib, 30, was also the first openly gay active NFL player after he came out in 2021. He said in 2022 interview he stared at his phone for "like, an hour" to hype himself up before he announced to the world he was gay.

"I just wanted to show that it really doesn't matter — your sexual orientation," Nassib said at the time. "... I just hoped that one day we don't have those fears — that's the society I hope for one day. And I hope I can be a positive push in that direction."

He thanked this agent, Brian Ayrault, whom Nassib said was the first person in the industry he told about his sexual orientation — "and [Ayrault] didn't blink. He encouraged and motivated me to follow through with my announcement and make a big of an impact as I possibly could."

Nassib also thanked members of the Buccaneers organization for signing him twice, as well as various coaches and trainers throughout his career.

Finally, Nassib said he wanted to work with the NFL on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the future.