Brendon Ayanbadejo is An Awesome Gay Rights Ambassador

About a week ago, I talked about Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and his amazing letter about gay rights.

I didn’t get terribly far into how Kluwe came to write that letter, and in doing so, I only briefly touched on the other hero of that story, Brendon Ayanbadejo.

Here’s a recap: Ayanbadejo had participated in a video for a series of spots called “Marylanders for Marriage Equality” (Maryland is one of four states where gay marriage is going to be put to a vote this November).

When Maryland delegate  Emmett C. Burns Jr. caught wind of this, he sent a letter to Raven’s owner Steve Bisciotti asking that he please shut his players the hell up. That’s when Kluwe wrote his amazing letter and set a new bar for awesome/snarky writing that I can only hope to come close to.

So that brings us up to the last few days.

Ayanbadejo took to the cable news outlets to defend his position and to thank Burns for shining a giant spotlight on this issue:

Mr. Ayanbadejo, I owe you an apology, sir.  For a couple of reasons, actually.

First of all, I didn’t give you the appropriate credit for speaking out in the first place.  I was blinded by Kluwe, his letter, and his short last name that was so easy to type.

Also, Kluwe says things like this:

“If you look back 50 years, the civil rights issue of the day was segregation,” Kluwe says. “A hundred years ago, it was suffrage; 150 years ago it, was slavery. And 50 years from now, what are our children going to think of us and what we stood for?

Can you blame me?

But back to Ayanbadejo.

I’m also sorry that I didn’t properly recognize your role as an ambassador for gay rights within the NFL, and how difficult that could be:

“The tide is changing,” Ayanbadejo said. He’s noticed a shift in NFL locker rooms that he feels mirrors a shift in society. Some teammates used to call him gay when he advocated gay rights, he says; now they listen to him even when they don’t agree. Many players who oppose same-sex marriage do so on religious grounds, he noted.

“I’m against it,” New York Giants offensive tackle Will Beatty said. “It’s just my religious background and, from what I understand from reading the Bible, it’s a sin. I mean, we all have sins. No one’s perfect. That doesn’t mean I’m for sin.”

Ayanbadejo respects the opinion but disagrees with it.

“The disconnect is that religion is not law,” he said. “And some guys have trouble seeing the difference.”

In summation, you shattered my assumption that linebackers are probably just meatheads.  I was wrong.  You are extremely eloquent and well-spoken and super awesome.  I am sorry.

Also, if you wanted to come back to the Bears, that would be really, really cool.

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • The Captain

    Ayanbadejo has been a public supporter of gay rights for the whole time he has been in the NFL. From an interview he did with the Bmore Sun if I remember, he said his dad was the dorm master of a LGBT dorm when he was growing up in CA and he lived there for a few years and that is what connected him to the community and helped him become and advocate for gay rights. 
    It should also be noted the Raven’s organization has come to Ayanbadejo’s defense against the D-Bag state delegate (who is a democrat by the way!) who demanded they shut him up. Ayanbadejo also says he’s gotten a lot of support (more than he expected) from players and the front office in his spat with Burns.

  • Julie Lada

    The “up in your grill” comment… Ugh. White people, please stop doing this. It isn’t cute. And if you notice, Ayanbadejo is quite articulate, composed and professional, which just makes the slide into ebonics in the beginning stand out even more in an uncomfortable sort of way.

  • ImRike

    Thank you, Jessica! I’ve already added Brendon to my very short list of heroes.
    And I still think that Burns Jr. should lose his job as a delegate. Yes, he has a right to his opinion, just like Brendon, but when he asked in his official capacity as a government employe that Brendon should be silenced, that should get him fired!

  • amycas

     I noticed the same thing.

  • Ned Ludd

    Good for Ayanbedejo and Kluwe. I got the impression from Kluwe’s letter that he may be the Hunter Thompson of football writers and may have a literary career ahead. Thompson wasn’t a player, but he started out as a sports writer.

  • Jeremy Mullins

    I’m a bit late to the party here, but I just want to point out that linebackers are among the smartest guys on the defensive side of the ball.  They’re responsible for protecting the middle of the field, and have to be ready to instantly adjust to the play type and direction and be ready to switch between run and pass coverage based on the situation. The middle linebacker in particular is usually responsible for evaluating offensive formations and calling defensive plays at the line.  It’s a very versatile position and requires a quick, sharp mind to be able to play successfully at the high levels of the game.