Brendon Ayanbadejo: ‘Handful’ of gay players considering coming out at once
Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo is one of the most outspoken supporters of same-sex equality in all of professional sports. He used the Super Bowl as a platform for expressing his views on gay rights and anti-bullying and continues to work with the LGBT community to create a safe environment for gay players in the NFL.
Last week, a report from CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman indicated that a current NFL player is “strongly considering” coming out as gay in the near future. During an interview with The Baltimore Sun on Friday, Ayanbadejo said he expects that to happen soon, but with more than one player at the same time.
“I think it will happen sooner than you think,” Ayanbadejo said. “We’re in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now and they’re trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out.
“Of course, there would be backlash. If they could share the backlash, it would be more positive. It’s cool. It’s exciting. We’re in talks with a few guys who are considering it. The NFL and organizations are already being proactive and open if a player does it and if something negative happens. We’ll see what happens.”
According to OutSports.com, Ayanbadejo later clarified in an interview with Anderson Cooper that such an announcement may not be as imminent as he previously indicated.
“No, actually, what it is is, is there are organizations I’m in contact with, and there are individuals I’m in contact with and collectively we know of some gay players. And these players, some of them are anonymous, some of them we know who they are, but their identity is super secret and nobody wants to reveal who they are, and some of them don’t want to reveal who they are, rightfully so because it’s entirely up to them what they are going to do.
“What we want to facilitate is getting them all together so they can lean on each other, so they can have a support group. And potentially it’s possible, it’s fathomable, that they could possibly do something together, break a story together.”
Now this sounds more like something Ayanbadejo hopes will happen rather than something that is likely to happen.
Comments from people like Seattle Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons and San Francisco 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver remind us that backlash is inevitable, but a group of players coming out at the same time could help counter some of that.
After the Ravens released Ayanbadejo on Thursday, the 36-year-old told Newsday that he believed the attention he has brought to the issue of same-sex equality in football contributed to the team’s decision to cut him. He backtracked from those comments on Friday morning.
“The Ravens have been backing me, they knew my stance for years and have been facilitating me and organizing me with LGBT and set me up with Equality Maryland,” he said. “They helped me. If they didn’t like what I was doing, they would have cut me a long time ago. I’m a special-teams player and you can find somebody to do what I did for less than half that value.”
Ayanbadejo was entering the second year of a three-year, $3.22 million contract. The Ravens insisted that the decision to release him was strictly football related, and it’s not hard to believe that when you consider the type of player Ayanbadejo is. Clearly he was speaking out of frustration on Thursday.