Kevin Maxen, associate strength and conditioning coach of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars has become the first out male coach in American men’s pro sports.
Maxen came out in an exclusive interview with Outsports this past Friday saying: “I don’t want to feel like I have to think about it anymore. I don’t want to feel like I have to lie about who I am seeing, or why I am living with someone else.”
The coach hopes that by coming out he will inspire others to live their lives openly and without fear. It cannot be overstated what a feat it is to be out in the male American pro sports world, and it is not a decision Maxen came to lightly. Apparently in February of 2022 he reached out to Carl Nassib, an out gay player on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who in turn referred Maxen to Outsports. It’s been a long road to coming out for the coach since then as he navigated his way through the ever-changing views of the country and the NFL, which let’s face it, has never been known to be a beacon of homosexual inclusivity.
The feedback from the NFL has been very encouraging, however. In a statement to ESPN Jaguars owner Shad Khan said: “Kevin is a Jacksonville Jaguar through and through, and a key member of our football team and community. 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.”
Brandon Linder, a center for the Jaguars who worked with Maxen told Outsports: “Kevin was a big part in helping me prepare every Sunday during my last year in the NFL. He would write workouts for me with exercises that would help with my deficiencies, which helped me be the best version of myself on that field. Our friendship grew with the time spent working together and us sharing a lot of similarities on our views of life, being someone that just gets it…..Kevin, I’m proud to call you a friend and excited to see what the future holds for you Kev. I know your story can help so many people. You the man! All shall be well!”
Perhaps most endearing of all about this story is that Maxen made the decision to come out of the closet out of the respect and love he had for both himself and his boyfriend Nick. He talked about becoming increasingly frustrated at NFL functions where everyone would be introducing their significant others and how he felt that he couldn’t do the same which led to guilt and shame spirals. Originally directing his anger at others for being closeted he eventually took accountability for keeping himself hidden.
“For a while I had such an anger for myself and hatred that I thought was from a fear of what others might think about who I am,” Maxen said. “But that wasn’t it. 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. And I was right to be angry at myself for thinking that I had to live in the image of anyone else.”
That anger bolstered him forward to the bold decision to come out, leading to a whole new level of confidence and acceptance, freeing him from any sort of self-imposed limitation.
“As a Black Jew who has dated both men and women, who has been a strength coach at the highest level of professional football, I’ve learned that how I look, what I believe in, and especially who I am physically or emotionally attracted to should not impact the way I or other people view my worth. And It should certainly not dictate what I feel I am capable of accomplishing.”
Words to live by.