Jags' Maxen is first male American pro sports coach to come out as gay

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars assistant strength and conditioning coach Kevin Maxen has become the first male coach in major American men's professional sports to publicly come out as gay, telling Outsports.com he made the decision because he didn't want to hide who he is any longer and to possibly inspire others in similar situations.

It's a decision and move that drew praise and support from owner Shad Khan, who was a vocal and emphatic supporter of a city ordinance that expanded protections on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

"I don't want to feel like I have to think about it anymore," Maxen said in the piece published Thursday afternoon. "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."

Khan said in a statement of support provided to ESPN later Thursday that he "appreciated reading Kevin's story."

"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."

Maxen has been with the Jaguars since the 2021 season. He previously was a strength coach at Baylor and Vanderbilt and also worked as an intern at Iowa and Army.

Maxen told Outsports.com he is sharing more of his personal life now after feeling he couldn't do that when he was at team events where others in the Jaguars organization introduced and shared information about their families. Maxen has been in a committed relationship for more than two years.

"You have other coaches who have significant others, and they're talking about their significant others," Maxen said. "And I felt guilty that I couldn't do the same thing, that I was letting myself down.

"I want the person I'm with to be able to share that with me."

A few female coaches in U.S.-based leagues have come out publicly, including Katie Sowers, a former assistant with the San Francisco 49ers. Outside linebacker Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay and to play in a game in 2021.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.