Brendon Ayanbadejo says role in gay rights issue one reason he was cut

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo watches the action

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo watches the action on the field during the second half of a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Baltimore. (Dec. 2, 2012) (Credit: AP)

Brendon Ayanbadejo has become known just as much for being an outspoken advocate for marriage equality as he is for being an NFL player. And he thinks that may be one of the reasons he’s no longer the latter.

Ayanbadejo’s contract was terminated by the Ravens today after five years with the team. At tonight’s Straight for Equality Gala in Manhattan where he and Vikings punter Chris Kluwe were being honored, Ayanbadejo said his non-football activities were a factor in the Ravens’ decision.

“My bark is louder than my bite,” he told Newsday. “I make a lot of noise and garner a lot of attention for various things off the football field. When that starts happening, why do you have that player around?”

Ayanbadejo said he understands it’s just a piece of the ultimate decision. The three-time Pro Bowler as a special teamer said he knows the Ravens can find players to do what he does for less money and conceded that his productivity has gone down in recent years.

“But,” he said, “I don’t necessarily think that teams want this type of attention.”

The Ravens have been generally supportive of Ayanbadejo, but the tipping point of that may have come this winter when the Ravens, the linebacker and the issue all took to the sport’s biggest stage at the same time.

“I was a vocal guy and garnered a lot of attention,” he said. “I brought a lot of issues with me to the Super Bowl and the issues came up at the Super Bowl.”

The Ravens insisted Ayanbadejo's release had  nothing to do with his stance on gay rights. 

"We are surprised that Brendon would indicate that," said Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne. "We have always respected Brendon's opinions and his right to express them. He was released for football reasons, period." 

Ayanbadejo said he’s not going to be banging on doors to get another chance in the NFL, but he will stay in shape and be available if an opportunity to continue playing presents itself. His work in the NFL as a player may be done, but he still thinks there is more to do in the league concerning his other passion.

“One thing I want to do is I want to facilitate change and be a catalyst for change,” he said. “I want the NFL to make a stance. Other Fortune 500 companies, Apple, Google, they’ve taken a stance against discrimination. You look at the International Soccer Federation and they’ve taken a stance against discrimination. I’m really waiting for the NFL to … Instead of the NFL having to be reactive to those things I want them to be proactive because I care about the NFL and I care about the players in the NFL.”
 

Tags: Brandon Ayanbadejo , Ravens , marriage equality

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