The Baltimore Ravens linebacker is not just a fierce competitor on the field, he’s also an activist for an unlikely cause: gay rights.
Ayanbadejo, who will appearing in his first ever Super Bowl on February 3rd, hopes to use the media spotlight from the big game to promote his position against bullying and for marriage equality.
The New York Times reports that Ayanbadejo recently emailed gay marriage advocate Brian Ellner and Michael Skolnik, the political director for Russell Simmons, and asked: “Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti- bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?”
The 36-year-old father of two children (with his longtime girlfriend) calls the message his “Jerry Maguire email,” and hopes it spawns action in the same way that the Tom Cruise character sought to rally his co-workers with an earnest “mission statement.”
He has been an outspoken supporter of the LGBT community for years despite rampant homophobia in NFL locker rooms and resistance on the national stage as well.
“I was raised around gay people in a very liberal society,” he told the Times in last September. “Discrimination was never allowed.”
“I’ve talked to teammates,” added Ayanbadejo, who has played professional football for over a decade. “I’ve talked to people in the Ravens office. We’ve come to the conclusion that if you can play football and you’re a good person, then we don’t care what your orientation is, what your views on social issues are. If you’re a good person and a great football player, then it doesn’t matter.”