A Las Vegas Raiders player has become the first active NFL player to announce he is gay.
Some 15 NFL players have come out after their careers were over, but Carl Nassib is the first to do so while still playing.
The 28-year-old defensive end posted a video on Instagram on Monday from his home in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where he said: “I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay.
“I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but finally feel comfortable getting it off my chest.
“I really have the best life, the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for.”
He added: “I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m not doing this for attention.
“I just think that representation and visibility are so important.”
Nassib told his 90,000 Instagram followers: “I actually hope that one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are not necessary, but until then I will do my best and my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate.”
He said he would donate $100,000 (£71,850) to the Trevor Project, a charity focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth.
Nassib was a third-round pick in the 2016 draft, playing for the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before he signed a three-year $25m (£18m) deal with Las Vegas last year.
In a message alongside his video, Nassib said: “I stand on the shoulders of giants, incredible people who have paved the way for me to have this opportunity.
“I do not know all the history behind our courageous LGBTQ community, but I am eager to learn and to help continue the fight for equality and acceptance.”
He said he felt “gratitude and relief” after sharing his news, adding that he had “agonised over this moment for the last 15 years”.
He said that friends and family had given him the support he needed to “say publicly and proudly that I’m gay”.
He also thanked the NFL, his coaches and fellow players for their support, adding: “I would not have been able to do this without them”.
“From the jump, I was greeted with the utmost respect and acceptance.”
The NFL’s official Twitter account tweeted his video and wrote: “The NFL family is proud of you, Carl”, a similar sentiment to that expressed by his team’s official account, which tweeted: “Proud of you, Carl”.
In comments on the NFL website, the league’s commissioner Roger Goodell said: “The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today.
“We share his hope that someday soon statements like his will no longer be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community.
“We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season.”