Brendon Ayanbadejo was recently the latest defender to be released by the Ravens, becoming yet another salary cap casualty. But even without their crunchy cap situation, Ayanbedejo was a backup linebacker and primarily a special teams player. And while his contributions in both of those roles were valuable, he’s 36 years old, and the Ravens can pay another younger body much less to do the same job(s).

Ayanbedejo knows this, and he fully acknowledged and accepted the reality of the coldness that is the NFL in April during a recent Newsday interview, although he could have selected better words while doing so. But as is often the case with Ayanbadejo, the trajectory — or lack thereof — of his football career isn’t the focus here.

Ayanbadejo is a highly outspoken supporter of gay rights. And since he’s also an NFL player — albeit currently an unemployed one — that means Ayanbadejo is by default a noted voice on a league issue that’s increasingly breaching the great divide, and becoming a subject of mainstream discussion. It can be summarized with this question: when will the NFL have an openly-gay player?

This isn’t just an NFL issue either, although there’s perhaps a greater barrier to break in a football locker room due to the brutal nature of the sport, and the possibility that every team has a few Chris Cullivers. Throughout all the North American professional sports leagues, there’s never been an openly-gay player.

Last week we learned that may be set to change very soon. Mike Freeman reported that a player could be preparing to publicly announce that he’s gay sometime in the next year, and possibly before the start of the 2013 NFL regular season. But he might not be alone.

During what essentially functioned as a public exit interview with the Baltimore Sun, Ayanbadejo said the wheels are in motion to execute much grander plans:

“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.”

He’s right on all accounts. If this plan is indeed executed, the public discussion and the unfortunate backlash would be significantly multiplied. But as humans, support from friends or family during such a time is crucial, and the players in question would then have plenty. That’s the power of a shared experience.

Judging by the comments I see on other popular NFL blogs whenever a story of this nature is posted (please don’t say anything horrible here now…thx), I don’t think the average football fan — you know, the guy who spends eight hours tailgating while consuming three animals — is ready for an openly-gay player, let alone four.

But if they just represent the vocal, venom-filled minority, I’d love to be wrong about that.

Comments (14)

  1. If you are one of the players thinking about coming out…don’t. The world is definitely not ready for this…the left-leaning media would have us all believe that the world is accepting of people’s differences, but only “their” world is. The truth is that only a very small percentage of the population will react favourably to this. Save yourself the trouble and keep your private life private…you don’t owe anyone anything. Focus on your career…it’s difficult enough to play pro sports without having to be a target.

    • The world isn’t ready for this, Brett, or YOU aren’t ready for this?

      • Brett is correct in stating that the world is not ready for this “coming out of the closet” epiphany in the NFL. He is not indicating what his personal preference is for coming out or not, he is simply stating how unwelcoming and undesirable the average NFL fan will view this act by a group of players. The fact is that those who want this issue to assert itself within the NFL are a significant minority compared to the vast majority who will simply not want to hear about it. Not every instance where a minority wants something pushed through upon the rest is neccessarily a good move simply because it is wanted by that minority.

  2. 2013…and still we have large pockets of humanity wishing to deny other human beings equal rights because of gender/race/sexual orientation/age etc etc.

    Shame we won’t ever see true equality in our lifetimes.

    • Forget our lifetimes…you will never see equality…it’s not a possibility. People will always search for and find any difference they can to seperate themselves from others…it is in human nature to separate and group together. People need to just find a personal situation they are comfortable with and live as best they can.

      • True we won’t achieve equality in our lifetime but we’re not going to get equality by not challenging the status quo. Equality isn’t about all being in the same group necessarily, it’s recognizing our differences but understanding that certain differences (Ie. things we can’t change like race, sex, gender, sexual preference, etc) don’t make one group better than another.

        • Exactly this. It won’t get any better until people are used to it. How much of an issue was it when Ellen Degeneres came out or when the first episodes of a show like Will & Grace aired. People flipped out. How does that compare 10 or 15 years later where the gay archetype is almost a necessity on any television show? Things don’t get better until courageous people make big steps. It was the same in the civil rights days and with women’s rights. It won’t be easy – but the time is coming.

          • Forcing people to get use to something they would not otherwise get use to willingly does not mean they accept it much less condone it, it simply means they will tolerate it which is not the same thing as acceptance. Genuine acceptance comes from an exercise of free will not from having an agenda pushed or forced on a person, that is bullying.

  3. meh, i can’t picture an openly gay player going to foxboro or some of those other ruthless stadiums. these players will definatley be the target of slurs/ insults.Even if its only a handful of 70,000 fans each Sunday that will target you it is not a situation I would put myself in.

    • Ever heard of some guy named Jackie Robinson? There is a movie coming out about him soon. Pioneers will always have a huge backlash.

      • There are good pioneers and then there are bad pioneers … comparing pioneers for race equality withing the African American community to pioneers pushing the same sex agenda is simply absurd, we might as well compare apples to oranges and then state both fruits grow from the same tree. It is ludicrous.

  4. Here’s an idea: A bleeding heart liberal billionaire can start up a league for Gay and Pro-Gay Football Players…he can call it the GFL: Gay Football League.

    I would get a good laugh watching their games.

    • I originally published this post 14 hours ago, and I’m pretty impressed that it took so long for someone like our boy John here to say something completely moronic.

      A slow clap goes out to the rest of you.

    • It’s harder to masturbate while laughing, John. Thats why you would watch the games, right…

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