Two days after speaking at marriage equality rally at the Supreme Court, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo joined The Jim Rome Show. The Super Bowl champion discussed how NFL locker rooms have changed since he first started speaking out on LGBT rights in 2009.
“Things have definitely changed,” said Ayanbadejo. “You’re are talking about 4 years later and the average career in the NFL is 3 ½ years so a lot of those guys that were in the locker room, saying bad things and that didn’t support LGBT rights are [now] actually a whole set of new guys. They’re young guys, they’re progressive thinkers and they support LGBT rights.”
The linebacker says there are still players who don’t agree with his opinions, but the growth of tolerance is expanding.
“The NFL is ready to take a stand and support people for marriage equality and LGBT rights in general,” said Ayanbadejo.
As for CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman’s report that an NFL player is considering coming “out” in the next few months, Ayanbadejo’s message is clear.
“We got your back; there are tons of NFL guys that support you. We’ve filed our amicus brief, me, Chris Kluwe, Scott Fujita, D’Qwell Jackson, countless of other guys that are in the NFL, we got your back,” said the 3-time Pro Bowler. “You’re going to be our Jackie Robinson player. It’s not about who you’re off the field as long as you’re a great person. It’s about what you do on the field. Go out there, be a great football player, the community, the organization and the players we’re going to have your back, brother. We got you.”
Ayanbadejo admits the first openly gay NFL player will have to be a special kind of person, because there will be a lot of attention, positive and negative.
“Obviously, it’s going to take somebody with very broad shoulders and very thick skin,” Ayanbadejo said. “It’s obviously going to be a person of great strong character to be able to be the first person to ever do this, in any professional sport in American history.”
As for whether a player will come out this year, Ayanbadejo isn’t sure, but his message is the sooner the better.
“You are going to help countless people,” said Ayanbadejo. “You’re going to help children in school; you’re going to help them stand taller be happier, have more confidence. Suicide rates will go down, people will look up to this person, there’s a gay player in the NFL.”