NFL: Las Vegas Raiders' Carl Nassib becomes first openly gay active NFL player

Las Vegas Raiders star Carl Nassib has become the first active NFL player to come out as gay.

The hulking defensive end has made the announcement in a social media video, saying it was "long overdue".

"I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,"  said Nassib. "I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.

"I really have the best life. I've got the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for.

"I’m a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know that I’m really not doing this for attention. 

"I just think that representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope that one day videos like this and the whole coming-out process are just not necessary, but until then, I’m going to do my best, and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate."

The announcement comes with the full support of the league, with the NFL commending Nassib on his courage through a Twitter post.

"The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today, " says commissioner  Roger Goodell said. "Representation matters.

"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."

Nassib is entering his sixth season, after being drafted by Cleveland Browns in the 2016.

The 28-year-old signed a three-year, US$25 million deal with the Raiders last year, after a year-long stint with Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Nassib says he is "incredibly thankful" to the league, his coaches, teammates and family for their support.

"I would not have been able to do this without them. From the jump, I was greeted with the utmost respect and acceptance.

"I truly love my life and cannot understand why I have been blessed this much. I feel especially thankful to have had so much support, when many who came before - and many even now - do not."

Nassib pledged a US$100,000 donation to the Trevor Project - an organisation that helps prevents suicide among LGBTQ youth.

Several former NFL players have come out as gay or bi-sexual after leaving the league, including former Patriots star Ryan O'Callaghan and Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jerry Rohrer.