Jaguars assistant is first male NFL coach to come out as gay

Kevin Maxen is gay.

No NFL coach had ever publicly come out as gay, so Maxen, an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, kept quiet about his sexual orientation.

And that made him angry — at himself.

“It was an anger and hatred of myself because I put myself in a life where I was living by other people’s rules and not by my own,” Maxen told Outsports. “And I was right to be angry at myself for thinking that I had to live in the image of anyone else.”

When the Outsports article was published online Thursday, Maxen became the first male coach in a major U.S. men’s professional sports league to come out as gay. Former San Francisco 49ers offensive assistant Katie Sowers became the NFL’s first coach to come out as gay in 2017. First-year Sparks coach Curt Miller, who coached the Connecticut Sun for seven years before that, has been out for decades.

According to the article, Maxen made his decision to do so last year and reached out for advice from Carl Nassib, who in 2021 became the NFL’s first out gay active player as a member of the Las Vegas Raiders.

It was Nassib who put Maxen in contact with Outsports.

“I don’t want to feel like I have to think about it anymore,” Maxen told Outsports. “I don’t want to feel like I have to lie about who I am seeing, or why I am living with someone else. I want to be vocal in support of people living how they want to live, but I also want to just live and not feel fear about how people will react.”

Jaguars owner Shad Khan expressed his support for Maxen on Thursday in a statement to ESPN.

“Kevin is a Jacksonville Jaguar through and through, and a key member of our football team and community,” Khan said. “I look forward to seeing Kevin next week at training camp, and hope that he comes to work each day during camp and through the season feeling confident, free and at peace. I know our players and staff feel the same.”

Sam Rapoport, the NFL senior director of diversity, equity and inclusion, tweeted a link to the Outsports article.

“Kevin, nothing but [heart emoji],” Rapoport posted. “Our out @NFL family is getting stronger and stronger, braver and braver. #forwardprogress”

Sowers, the former 49ers assistant, replied to Rapoport’s tweet: “So so happy to see this.”

Maxen played linebacker for three years at Division III Western Connecticut State University, earning first-team defense honors in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference as a senior in 2018. Previously a strength coach at Baylor and Vanderbilt, Maxen has been with the Jaguars since 2021.

He has been with his current boyfriend for about the same amount of time, according to Outsports. And now Maxen is ready for both parts of his life to intersect.

“You have other coaches who have significant others, and they’re talking about their significant others,” Maxen said. “… I want the person I’m with to be able to share that with me.”