Jacksonville Jaguars assistant strength and conditioning coach Kevin Maxen came out publicly as gay Thursday, making him the first known openly gay men’s coach in the NFL and men’s professional sports in the United States.
There are reasons why Maxen decided to come out publicly now, one of which is to be able to lead an open life with her boyfriend, Nick, who she has been dating for two years.
«I don’t want to feel like I have to think about it anymore,» Maxen, who joined the Jaguars staff last season, explained to Outsports. «I don’t want to feel like I have to lie about who I’m seeing or why I’m living with someone else.
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«I want to express my support for people living the way they want to live, but I also want to live and not be afraid of how people will react.»
Maxen added that her support system, which includes family, friends and colleagues, was supportive, allowing her to make the decision to come out publicly.
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«It wasn’t until recently, and with the immense love and support of my family, my friends, colleagues and peers, and the courage and sacrifice of my partner, that I realized that I have the right and responsibility to love and be loved, and that maybe sharing this will give someone else the strength to accept their own life and take control of their own story,» Maxen explained.
Maxen said he is «hopeful» that his Jaguars colleagues will accept his truth.
«I have a very good sense of humor,» he said. «So, I can joke around with a lot of the guys and not take anything personally.»
«In an environment that is diversifying, it is a privilege to work alongside Kevin, who is a hard-working, dedicated and thriving strength and conditioning coach for the Jaguars,» Jacksonville director of player development Marcus Pollard told Outsports.
Former Jaguars center Brandon Linder also said Maxen was always someone he could lean on.
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«Kevin was a huge part of helping me prepare every Sunday my senior year in the NFL,» Linder said. «He would write workouts for me with exercises that helped me with my shortcomings, which helped me to be the best version of myself in that field. Our friendship grew with the time we spent working together and sharing a lot of similarities in our outlook on life, being someone who just gets it.
«Kevin, I’m proud to call you a friend and I’m excited to see what the future holds for you, Kev. I know your story can help a lot of people. You man, everything will be alright.»
Maxen was hired in Jacksonville after spending time with the Baylor Bears and Vanderbilt Commodores football teams as a strength and conditioning coach.
Joining the Jaguars led Maxen to work primarily with the linemen, both on offense and defense. He developed his exercise regimen while keeping track of everyone’s progress.
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In the NFL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Carl Nassib became the league’s first openly gay active player when he made his announcement in 2021 while playing for the Los Vegas Raiders.
San Francisco 49ers assistant Katie Sowers was the first openly gay woman and coach at a Super Bowl in 2020.