Brendon Ayanbadejo Says His Gay Rights Activism Was Factor in Ravens’ Decision to Release Him


Brendon AyanbadejoThe Baltimore Ravens cut ties with Brendon Ayanbadejo on Thursday, and the special teamer says it wasn’t due to poor performance on the field.

Ayanbadejo has long been among the strongest voices in the sports world advocating for marriage equality. He was honored for his gay rights activism alongside Vikings punter Chris Kluwe at the Straight for Equality Gala in New York City on Thursday, at which he claimed that same activism contributed to the Ravens’ decision to release him.

“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?”

Playing a relatively thankless role as a backup linebacker and special teams player, Ayanbadejo rarely garners headlines for his play on the field. But his outspoken personality has created significant buzz, most notably last September, when a Maryland politician wrote a letter demanding that the Ravens take steps to limit Ayanbadejo’s public expression. This outspoken attitude, he says, may have rubbed some in the Baltimore organization the wrong way, or at least made it easier for the team to release him.

“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.

“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 views had any bearing on the team’s decision.

“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.”

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