Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo hadn't even slept after Baltimore's AFC championship game win over the Patriots when he started sending emails asking how he could help promote gay rights at the Super Bowl.
According to the New York Times, at 3:40 a.m. on Monday, Ayanbadejo sent emails to Brian Ellner, a marriage-equality advocate, and Michael Skolnik, political director for Russell Simmons, a hip-hop magnate who is a supporter of gay rights and marriage equality.
“Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti-bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?” Ayanbadejo wrote, according to the Times.
It's not often a person has the exposure provided by being a player on a Super Bowl team, and now that Ayanbadejo's mission has been made very public, expect him to get a lot of opportunities to discuss his cause.
Here's what Ayanbadejo, who is in his 10th season, told the Times:
“It’s one of those times when you’re really passionate and in your zone,” Ayanbadejo said, according to the Times. “And I got to thinking about all kinds of things, and I thought: how can we get our message out there?”
Ayanbadejo and Minnesota punter Chris Kluwe have both been vocal advocates for same-sex marriage. In the Times' story, Ayanbadejo explains that he grew up around gay people in a liberal society and "discrimination was never allowed." He admits that not all of his teammates agree with his stance, but he said he has gotten more support than when he first supported the issue several years ago. He said his dream is to go on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show after the Super Bowl to discuss the issue some more.
"He understands that as a straight biracial player in the Super Bowl, he can have a huge impact on the future of this issue," Ellner told the Times.
While Ayanbadejo has a job to do with the Ravens, preparing for a championship game against the 49ers, he also feels he has a social responsibility to bring awareness to the cause of gay rights. That won't take away from his job of preparing for the game, any more than the stupidly goofy antics of the jokesters at media day will take away from any other player's focus.
It's a courageous and unique stand Ayanbadejo will be taking in New Orleans next week. He'll certainly have a great opportunity to get his message across.
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