Former Ravens special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo hinted last night to Newsday’s Tom Rock at an event in New York that the league might be on the verge of having its first openly gay players.
“It’s possible you could see more than one,” Ayanbadejo said at the “Straight for Equality Gala" in Manhattan on Thursday. “To potentially have more than one player come out this year would be pretty ground-breaking and a momentous occasion.”
Ayanbadejo took the issue a step further by telling the Baltimore Sun that he is actually in conversations with up to four current NFL players who will consider going public with their sexual orientation.
"I think it will happen sooner than you think," Ayanbadejo told the paper in a wide-ranging interview today. "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.”
Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who was also honored at the gala last night and has been an advocate for gay rights issues, agreed.
“That would be ideal if a bunch of gay athletes came out at the same time, because then you could spread that attention,'' Kluwe said. “It wouldn't be 'Hey, there's one guy.' It would be 'Oh, there are five or six guys' and this isn't just an isolated phenomenon. There are gay players in the NFL.”
The league recently came under scrutiny after a college prospect, Colorado tight end Nick Kasa, said during a radio interview that he was asked about his sexual orientation during an interview at the Scouting Combine in February.
Kasa did not identify the team or teams involved in the questioning, but said during the interview with a Denver radio station that he was asked, “‘Do you have a girlfriend? Are you married? Do you like girls?’ Those kinds of things, and you know it was just kind of weird,” he said. “But they would ask you with a straight face, and it’s a pretty weird experience altogether.”
The league concluded an investigation this week that didn’t find any specific violations of its policy. However, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at last month’s owners meetings that the league has offered training to all teams on privacy matters involving players.
“We are… working with all of our executives that lead in that position to make sure they understand what you can’t ask and what you can ask,” Goodell said. “We’re a professional organization. That [line of questioning is] unacceptable. We will do things the right way. We will give them that education and that training. I hope that will solve the problem.”