Former Raven claims his release stemmed from support of gay marriage

Published On April 5, 2013 | By Jill Saftel

In sports, we like to hope the comings and goings of players from team to team is all business. Sometimes, it isn’t. Brendon Ayanbadejo was released from the Baltimore Ravens Thursday, and he says it has more to do with his work off the field than his work on it.

Ayanbadejo advocates for marriage equality, and he isn’t quiet about it. Nor should he have to be. According to Yardbarker, he was honored for his gay rights activism with Vikings punter Chris Kluwe at the Straight for Equality Gala in New York City on Thursday. It was there he spoke out about why he really thinks the Ravens cut ties.

He isn’t famous for his play on the field, and chances are if you’ve heard his name it’s because of his outspokenness when it comes to issues outside of football. Last September, a Maryland politician wrote a letter demanding that the Ravens take steps to limit Ayanbadejo’s public expression. Um, no thank you.

But if Ayanbadejo is right, someone within the Ravens organization might not be such a big fan.

“My bark is louder than my bite,” he told Newsday, via the Yardbarker report. “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?”

“I was a vocal guy and garnered a lot of attention. I brought a lot of issues with me to the Super Bowl and the issues came up at the Super Bowl. “One thing I want to do is I want to facilitate change and be a catalyst for change. 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.”

The Ravens denied that Ayanbadejo’s personal opinions had anything to do with his release, and of course, that may be the case.

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

You’ve got to give Ayanbadejo a stick tap for his activism. It’s extremely commendable, especially in a field where it’s definitely not the status quo to speak out like he does. For the Ravens’ sake, let’s hope this one was strictly based on football.

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About The Author

Jill studies journalism at Northeastern University, covers Hockey East for College Hockey News and is the sports editor for The Huntington News. You can follow her on Twitter at @jillsaftel, just don’t ask her to choose between hockey and baseball, it’s impossible.