The Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens cut linebacker and special teams maven Brandon Ayanbadejo on Thursday. The team says the move has nothing to do with his being the most outspoken advocate for the LGBT community the sports world has ever seen, and he agrees: “If they didn’t like what I was doing, they would have cut me a long time ago.”
But buried 17 paragraphs into this long interview profile by the Baltimore Sun comes the most important news nugget for those who can’t wait to see an openly gay professional athlete: Ayanbadejo says in order to reduce pressure on The First, we may see four gay players come out together.
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From the Sun’s profile:
Ayanbadejo, who was given recognition along with Kluwe from former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue at the event Thursday night, predicted that more than one player may come out as gay during their playing career. Ayanbadejo said the groundwork is being laid to reduce the pressure on such a player, and said as many as four players could conceivably come out simultaneously.
“I think it will happen sooner than you think,” Ayanbadejo said. “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.
“Of course, there would be backlash. If they could share the backlash, it would be more positive. It’s cool. It’s exciting. We’re in talks with a few guys who are considering it. The NFL and organizations are already being proactive and open if a player does it and if something negative happens. We’ll see what happens.”
It remains to be seen whether this will come to fruition, but this would certainly alleviate the discomfort of one man’s carrying the burden of being a pioneer in the last remaining public bastian of acceptable anti-gay culture.
This group reveal seems unnecessary, but strength in numbers is important. While the Jackie Robinson comparison is not totally apt, it is important. If this courageous man before his time could break the color barrier in an era when it was still super-cool to be racist, don’t you think it will be much easier in an era when the NFLPA president says he’s all about it, players like Chris Klwue and Ayanbadejo are going on talk shows and people like Kobe Bryant are tweeting fans to stop saying “your gay?” Besides, these guys are already in the league. Coming out and playing football seems like child’s play in comparison to what 42 went through in joining a racist league with racist fans.
The fear for gay NFL players coming out as gay is real. But, in the grand scheme, it’s also overblown, because it will blow over fairly quickly. Hey, whatever it takes to provide new role models for young LGBT folk who need gay icons and idols. Sports is the last arena. Four at once? That will have impact. That will be an amazing development. Let’s make this happen.