Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo is a full-time NFL player, but he pulls double duty as a full-time supporter of same-sex marriage legalization. It’s a noble, honorable cause for Ayanbadejo, who has crusaded for other causes as well, such as proper nutrition for children and environmental sustainability. Listen, you don’t have to agree with Brendan if you don’t want to. But you also don’t need to ask the Ravens to punish him if you really don’t agree with him.
Emmett C. Burns Jr. is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates and recently wrote a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti pleading for Ayanbadejo to face punishment based on his views on same-sex marriage. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports provided some excerpts from the strongly worded letter, so you can decide for yourself whether or not Burns was way out of line or off the plane entirely:
“I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo would publicly endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically as a Raven Football player,” Burns wrote in the letter first obtained by WBAL-TV. “Many of my constituents and your football supporters are appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens Football Team would step into this controversial divide and try to sway public opinion one way or the other.
“Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment and excitement,” Burns continued. “I believe Mr. Ayanbadejo should concentrate on football and steer clear of dividing the fan base.
“I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as a National Football League Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employees and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions. I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing.”
I don’t get it, is Ayanbadejo not allowed to be a person? A living, breathing man with individual views and beliefs all his own? It takes a resolute, stern man to make it through an NFL season, let alone 10, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have his unique viewpoints all his own, let alone the ability to use his standing as an athlete to promote them.
Let’s take the other side of the coin, say, in Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely. Feely is a smart man with a Michigan education, and often takes to Twitter to air his political views when he isn’t kicking field goals. Feely just so happens to be a Republican, with what you or I would consider to be fiscally and socially conservative beliefs. Whether or not you agree or disagree with him on any given issue, it is his right as an American individual to be able to affirm his beliefs publicly, much like it is Ayanbadejo’s.
Mr. Burns, should the Cardinals fire Feely because some Cardinals fans probably don’t agree with his views that he talks about publicly? Should the Jets fire Tim Tebow for the fact that he is notorious for wearing his faith on his sleeve?
But this isn’t a case of an NFL player stumping when he should be blocking or passing, which really renders the rest of his nonsensical rhetoric moot. It’s the case of a disillusioned local politician who wrote an asinine letter because of his own deeply disturbing homophobic train of thought.
Oh, and you know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing, Mr. Burns? This video of Michael Strahan supporting marriage equality begs to differ. He was since retired when it came out, but something tells me John Mara and Steve Tisch wouldn’t have let go of their All-World defensive end for his views, nor would local politicians have called for his firing. Plenty of people support marriage equality, and some of them just happen to be football players.
And some remarks from Ayanbadejo:
“Football is just my job it’s not who I am,” Ayanbadejo wrote on Twitter. “I am an American before anything. And just like every American I have the right to speak!!!”
Yes he is, folks. And yes he does.
[Yahoo! Sports, photo via Getty]