Baltimore Ravens Linebacker Wants to ‘Harness’ Super Bowl Fame to Promote Gay Marriage

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo is, once again, capturing headlines over his support for same-sex marriage. According to The New York Times, the player is hoping to use his team’s Super Bowl platform to make a statement in support of gay rights. Following Baltimore’s win against the New England Patriots on Sunday, he purportedly e-mailed gay rights activists to ask what he can do for marriage equality and the anti-bullying movement over the next few weeks.

According to the Times, Ayanbadejo e-mailed Brian Ellner, a gay marriage advocate he has worked with before and Michael Skolnik, hip hop mogul Russell Simmons’ political director, asking how he could be of service. The message, sent just before 4 a.m. ET Monday morning, 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?”

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo watches the action on the field during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Baltimore, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. Credit: AP

Following the e-mail, the football player told the Times that the message he sent was his “Jerry Maguire email,” driving home the notion that the attention he will have before and during the Super Bowl will be  intense — and that it can be harnessed to tout pro-gay marriage sentiment. But this support for same-sex unions nothing new for Ayanbadejo, who has been speaking out for gay rights for quite some time.

The Times has more about his upbringing — one that has colored his current views:

Ayanbadejo’s support for gay rights reflects a childhood and youth during which he mingled with a diverse group of people, including many who were openly gay or lesbian. At one point, he told me, his stepfather was the resident director of an L.G.B.T. dorm at the University of California at Santa Cruz; the family, including Ayanbadejo, lived there.

“I was raised around gay people in a very liberal society,” he told me during an interview in September, when I first spoke with him. “Discrimination was never allowed.”

Ayanbadejo, who has been playing professional football for a decade, first publicly voiced his support for marriage equality several years ago, and says it was a much lonelier stand at the time. He drew insults. Derision.

St. Louis Rams running back Daryl Richardson, right, runs with the ball as Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo defends during the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in St. Louis. Credit: AP 

The player is hoping for a Super Bowl win and a subsequent appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” where the two can discuss the treatment of gays and lesbians.

“That’s my ultimate goal after the Super Bowl,” he told the Times. “To go on Ellen’s show, to be dancing with her, to bust a move with her.”