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Ayanbadejo responds to politician who wanted to silence him

Brendon Ayanbadejo AP

Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said Friday he was “surprised,” to hear a local politician’s effort to get the Ravens to keep him from speaking in favor of gay marriage.

Maryland House of Delegates member Emmett C. Burns Jr. sent a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti saying he was “appalled and aghast” by Ayanbadejo’s stance on the issue and urged Bisciotti to silence him.

“Just what our country was founded on, for someone to try to take that away from me, I was pretty surprised that something like that would come up, especially from a politician,” Ayanbadejo said, via Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun.

Ayanbadejo said team president Dick Cass stopped him to tell him the team supported him, and that the team was planning to draft a letter to Burns.

The team issued a statement from Cass which said: “We support Brendon’s right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment.”

“He [said], ‘We’re in support of you, and it’s good that you’re able to voice your opinion and say how you feel,’” Ayanbadejo said. “But Dick personally told me that we’re not an organization that discriminates and he was telling me how he was on Pro Football Talk and he was reading all the comments that people have said and he was overwhelmingly surprised and happy to see that football fans were supporting me and what I said. He told me that I should go there and I should read it.”

Ayanbadejo has been an advocate for gay marriage since 2008, and views it as a civil rights issue.

“I just thought it was important because it’s an equality issue. I see the big picture,” Ayanbadejo said. “You know, there was a time when women didn’t have rights, black people didn’t have rights, and right now, gay rights is a big issue and it has been for a long time. And so we’re slowly chopping down the barriers to equality.

“We have some minority rights we have to get straight and some gay rights, then we’ll be on our way — because ultimately, the goal is to be the best country that we can be and we’re always evolving. You just look back to where we came from, and we’ve come a long way, but we still have a ways to go.”

Whether you agree with Ayanbadejo’s politics or not, his willingness to give voice to his opinions is admirable. Too many athletes take the safe way out, for fear of angering any small slice of the public (like Michael Jordan’s “Republicans buy shoes too,” rationale for not endorsing political candidates).

And whether you agree with Burns or not, you would hope any degree of elected official would have paid just a little more attention in Civics class.

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56 Responses to “Ayanbadejo responds to politician who wanted to silence him”
  1. otrd13 says: Sep 7, 2012 3:14 PM

    now place footsie with the fence and say what you should be saying. Applaud Ayanbadejo for his comments and his defense of civil liberties regardless or race, gender, creed or sexuality.

  2. mn1bjb says: Sep 7, 2012 3:15 PM

    I am appalled and aghast that an elected official would go out of his way to try and silence someone. It leads me to wonder if that’s what his constituents would have wanted.

  3. ckelly26 says: Sep 7, 2012 3:20 PM

    emmett.burns@house.state.md.us

    Let him hear your voice!

  4. thekiy says: Sep 7, 2012 3:21 PM

    That’s how you deal with a bigot. Refuse to back down and drag their bigotry into the spotlight. Bigots are like bullies, they back down when you put their ugliness on display.

    Well done Brendon.

  5. sisqsage says: Sep 7, 2012 3:21 PM

    If you think about it, Jordan’s quote gave his real position- and where his heart was- away anyway.

  6. eaglesw00t says: Sep 7, 2012 3:22 PM

    Good for him, and good for the Ravens.

    About time someone stood up for something they said, and manned up about it.

    I cant believe a politician went that far as to try to get him to keep quiet.

  7. jimmysee says: Sep 7, 2012 3:22 PM

    You go Brendon!

    Way-to-Go!

    My hero!

    Our country needs more Brendon Ayanbadejos!

  8. ravensfansc says: Sep 7, 2012 3:24 PM

    Much respect to you Mr. Ayanbadejo. Glad to see you take a stand.

  9. ncsteeler says: Sep 7, 2012 3:25 PM

    Ah yes, freedom of speech! Remember how everyone suported Rashard Mendenhall’s right to say he didn’t think AQ was responisble for 9/11? While I agree with Ayanbadejo and disagree with Mendenhall, I suppport either’s 1st amendment rights. If people can’t say stupid things or stuff we disagree with what does freedom of speech mean?

  10. alwayswinningbig says: Sep 7, 2012 3:27 PM

    So our comments are read by NFL teams! That’s pretty cool. :)

  11. afirst916 says: Sep 7, 2012 3:29 PM

    It’s pretty asinine for anyone to tell anyone else to keep their mouth shut and just play football. Normally you see remarks like that in comment sections on websites, not coming from politicians.

  12. qdog112 says: Sep 7, 2012 3:29 PM

    Emmett C. Burns Jr. is a complete idiot.

  13. wardrivekeith says: Sep 7, 2012 3:29 PM

    Kudos to the Ravens Organization in a BIG way here! As you stated, agree or disagree, the right of freedom of expression! Dick Cass … WONDERFUL statement! Brendon … FANTASTIC response! A lot of high roads taken here in response to Emmett “Monte” Burns taking the low road! Ravens have made a fan here with these actions!

  14. dab415217 says: Sep 7, 2012 3:30 PM

    Don’t you know that politician’s are above the law?.. or, so many of them think.

    Whether one agrees or not (I don’t totally) with Mr. Ayanbadejo’s opinion, is irrelevant. We should all agree he has the right to say it.

    I think Mr. Burns should immediately forfeit his seat to Mr. Ayanbadejo, who clearly has abetter grasp on what this country is all about.

  15. johntonioholmes says: Sep 7, 2012 3:31 PM

    I’m a Steelers fan, but I cannot express how much I admire both Ayanbadejo and the Ravens’ organization for standing behind him.

  16. btowngetsdown says: Sep 7, 2012 3:41 PM

    If you’d like a nice read, check out Chris Kluwe’s (punter for the Vikings) letter to Emmett Burns on Deadspin.com. Can’t post the link as Kluwe’s colorful language appears in the title. It’s great.

    Kluwe is pretty hilarious. He used to do the dry erase board humor during the lockout. Come to think of it, Jared Allen is pretty hilarious too. Most be a thing in Minnesota

  17. axltcu says: Sep 7, 2012 3:43 PM

    Gay and lesbian people should have the right to be just as miserable as the rest of us.

  18. elvis7376 says: Sep 7, 2012 3:44 PM

    Those comments make the ravens sound very foolish

  19. citynative says: Sep 7, 2012 3:47 PM

    @ncsteeler

    Ah yes, freedom of speech! Remember how everyone suported Rashard Mendenhall’s right to say he didn’t think AQ was responisble for 9/11? While I agree with Ayanbadejo and disagree with Mendenhall, I suppport either’s 1st amendment rights. If people can’t say stupid things or stuff we disagree with what does freedom of speech mean?

    ————————————————

    Though I hear and respect your point, I believe the two situations are different. In Ayanbadejo’s case, he is having someone try to suppress his freedom of speech by having his employer silence him. In Mendenhall’s situation, correct me if I am wrong, but no one tried to silence him, there was just outrage against his comments. An individual has every right to state their beliefs, but the public then has the right to judge those statements and exercise their 1st Amendment rights themselves.

  20. tinbender2000 says: Sep 7, 2012 3:50 PM

    I don’t know whats dumber. Sending that letter in the first place, or being a democratic politician towing the republican party line.. Either way I’d like to see this clown read that letter to Mr.Ayanbadejo’s face.

  21. jmiller2025 says: Sep 7, 2012 3:50 PM

    As a rule free speech suppression comes from the left (chick filet, etc.). Please don’t insult my intelligence by suggesting this is a civil rights issue or comparable to racial discrimination. Folks feel that the legal establishment of gay marriage will provide moral justification for their chosen sexual behavior. It’s as simple as that – nothing more and nothing less.

  22. blackngold4life says: Sep 7, 2012 3:52 PM

    Politicians silence ppl every day, but this moron just made himself look real stupid..what did he think would happen??

  23. rcali says: Sep 7, 2012 3:53 PM

    Free Speech? Hysterical comment from the team. If Ayanbadejo would have went the other way I’m pretty sure his “free speech” would have caused a job loss.

  24. toekramp says: Sep 7, 2012 3:54 PM

    As a diehard Steelers’ fan, good on Ayanbadejo and the Ravens prez.

  25. dowhatifeellike says: Sep 7, 2012 3:55 PM

    ncsteeler says:
    Sep 7, 2012 3:25 PM
    Ah yes, freedom of speech! Remember how everyone suported Rashard Mendenhall’s right to say he didn’t think AQ was responisble for 9/11? While I agree with Ayanbadejo and disagree with Mendenhall, I suppport either’s 1st amendment rights. If people can’t say stupid things or stuff we disagree with what does freedom of speech mean?

    —-

    While I agree with you, there is a notable difference between the two cases.

    Mendenhall said something dumb and the general public said, “hey, shut up, dummy.” Each side can say whatever they want; 1st amendment does not apply.

    In Ayanbadejo’s case, a public official, a person with political and governmental power, told him to be quiet. That is clearly a 1st amendment violation.

  26. dayumyou says: Sep 7, 2012 3:56 PM

    mn1bjb says:
    Sep 7, 2012 3:15 PM
    I am appalled and aghast that an elected official would go out of his way to try and silence someone. It leads me to wonder if that’s what his constituents would have wanted.
    __________________

    dude this is in Baltimore….you have NO idea what goes on here and you don’t want to know either…

  27. thomasreilly says: Sep 7, 2012 3:57 PM

    I wonder if the team would be as supportive of first amendment rights if they didn’t support the view. I mean, if they really support a player’s right to free speech how would they react to a player who exercises the right to make racist or sexist comments…Wasn’t Chad Johnson threatened with losing his job for exercising free speech while swearing in an interview?

  28. blacknole08 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:01 PM

    Good for you Brendon. Always stand up for what you believe in and never be afraid to voice your opinion. That’s what freedom of speech is truly about.

  29. slugbaitspace says: Sep 7, 2012 4:03 PM

    In reply to ncsteeler’s question, freedom of speech means that Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.

    That means if Burns sponsored a bill to Congress that someone should not be able to speak freely about same-sex marriage, it likely wouldn’t make it out of committee, much less make it to the House for a vote (where it would be overwhelming defeated).

    But Burns can say to the Ravens whatever he wants to say. It’s impolite, to say the least, but there is no law preventing him from doing so.

    Considering Burns is a Baptist minister, it’s not surprising that he is not in favor of same-sex marriage.

    It’s also not surprising that he’s exercising his First Amendment right to inform the nation that he’s an idiot…politicians do that all the time.

  30. latchbeam says: Sep 7, 2012 4:07 PM

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  31. thewizardofbs says: Sep 7, 2012 4:13 PM

    Can we get a Florida legislator to tell Steven Ross to fire Jeff Ireland?

  32. bla bla bla says: Sep 7, 2012 4:20 PM

    When I was a boy, I looked up to football players. My heroes were Starr, Nitschke, Travis “The Roadruner” Williams, et al.

    Now I’m old enough to be the father of most men in the NFL, so I haven’t really looked up to them for a number of years.

    Today, I look up to one again. Good on you, young man.

  33. randallflagg52 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:21 PM

    Glad Brendon and the Ravens are taking the correct stance here. Brendon standing up for what is right and just, and the Ravens for backing up one of their players.

    Oh, and the Orioles just keep winning. Things are going great here in Baltimore!

  34. ty49er4life says: Sep 7, 2012 4:31 PM

    Yeeeeeeah its pretty ridiculous a politician would want a team to blantantly violate a persons 1st ammendmant right to free speech. And also surprised a democrat would be so opposed to gay marriage. It’s just sad its 2012 and people are still so ignorant and narrow minded. Who’s business is it to say that two consenting adults shouldn’t be able to marry. Im shocked it even became and still is a law. It is a civil rights issue its no different than when black ppl couldn’t marry white ppl and that law changed. I say all this as a very straight white male liberal.

  35. totallyuselessme says: Sep 7, 2012 4:33 PM

    Wow.

    I would be ashamed if this was an elected official in my area.

    What a scumbag. Really. What a scumbag. No matter which side of the fence you’re on with this one, if you’re an American you damn well better support free speech.

    Get this idiot out of office. Good job Brendan.

  36. fetchezlavache says: Sep 7, 2012 4:36 PM

    Brendon,

    When you come to Philly in just over a week, I’ll still be rooting for the Eagles to beat the Ravens, but I will have a ton of respect for your willingness to stand up for equal rights that don’t even directly impact you on a personal basis. Way to go!!

  37. ivyleaf98 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:37 PM

    I am not a supporter of marriage equality. However, I do believe in the “the right to freedom of speech”. Im still shocked that an elected official would write a letter requesting for Brendon to “be quiet”. It was a distasteful move on Mr. Burns behalf. Mr. Burns should stick to politics instead of infringing on others rights to speak freely.

  38. starfan79 says: Sep 7, 2012 5:31 PM

    Hi Brendon! Good job bro, just another politician waisting more tax payer money sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong.. I think that is a case where he should be reviewed.

  39. axespray says: Sep 7, 2012 5:56 PM

    “because ultimately, the goal is to be the best country. You just look back to where we came from.”

    Europe… stinky pilgrims… (shaking my head w/my avatar hat on)

  40. ordinaryday6 says: Sep 7, 2012 6:12 PM

    Good for the ravens and the player. shame on the politician, but what else is new. These are the people “representing” us? Pathetic.

  41. wjwalsh54 says: Sep 7, 2012 6:14 PM

    jmiller2025 says:
    Sep 7, 2012 3:50 PM
    As a rule free speech suppression comes from the left (chick filet, etc.). Please don’t insult my intelligence by suggesting this is a civil rights issue or comparable to racial discrimination. Folks feel that the legal establishment of gay marriage will provide moral justification for their chosen sexual behavior. It’s as simple as that – nothing more and nothing less.

     The fact that you used the words “chosen sexual behavior” proves that your “intelligence” (or lack thereof) needs no insulting from me. It’s doing a bang up job all on its own.

  42. sneather says: Sep 7, 2012 6:30 PM

    I am putting away my Packers jersey (with a good cry) and going online to buy a new Ravens jersey. At 59, it is still not too late to have role models.

    MD was founded to protect religious freedom. Here is an elected official using religion to deny freedom to US citizens. Shame on him!

  43. djvicdogg says: Sep 7, 2012 6:31 PM

    I wish people would stop comparing discrimination against someone being gay to discrimination against someone’s race. Being gay is a lifestyle choice. If I wanted to, I could make the choice to be gay right now, but I can’t just wake up and say “You know what, I think I’m gonna be black today.” It’s an insult to me as a minority. I had no choice to be Mexican and there is no way I can change that. My race is not a “preference” but being gay is. Nothing against gay people, but don’t insult me by trying to compare your struggle to mine.

  44. bengalsredgreenshow says: Sep 7, 2012 7:12 PM

    Being gay is a lifestyle choice. If I wanted to, I could make the choice to be gay right now, but I can’t just wake up and say “You know what, I think I’m gonna be black today.” It’s an insult to me as a minority. I had no choice to be Mexican and there is no way I can change that. My race is not a “preference” but being gay is.
    ———————–

    Tell us all about how you choose to be straight every day?.
    While you’re at it, tell us how it is that you choose to be right (or left) handed.
    Lastly, could you enlighten us on your choice to be retarded?

  45. sparky151 says: Sep 7, 2012 7:15 PM

    It’s kind of silly to applaud Ayanbadejo for exercising his first amendment rights and condemn Burns for exercising his in the same post. Why do I suspect that most of Ayanbadejo’s supporters would be less enthusiastic if Tim Tebow jumped in with his views on same sex marriage or abortion?

  46. daviddmsvcp says: Sep 7, 2012 7:27 PM

    I am for freedom of speech and I am against same sex marriage.

  47. ddogdaddy says: Sep 7, 2012 7:30 PM

    Hey I know everybody is all happy about the feel good story of the year about the big tough football player standing up to the mean old politician on the issue of gay rights. Great story, bad timing. This is when he should be thinking about football and football only. There is a time and place for everything and I would bet money many of his team mates feel the same way. If I were a Ravens fan I would be concerned about the distraction. Just saying.

  48. mazblast says: Sep 7, 2012 8:58 PM

    Props to the player for being willing to express his opinion, and to Ravens management for not cowering under the pressure of some fifth-string legislator.

    What is particularly wretched about Mr. Burns’ effort is that he didn’t have the guts to confront the player, instead trying to bludgeon the player’s employer into suppressing his 1st Amendment rights.

    I suggest that after the football season (first things coming first), we lock Mr. Burns and Mr. Ayanbadejo in a small room and let them “discuss” the situation. Whoever comes out alive will not be subject to prosecution. Fair?

  49. mn1bjb says: Sep 7, 2012 9:24 PM

    jmiller2025 says: Sep 7, 2012 3:50 PM

    As a rule free speech suppression comes from the left (chick filet, etc.). Please don’t insult my intelligence by suggesting this is a civil rights issue or comparable to racial discrimination. Folks feel that the legal establishment of gay marriage will provide moral justification for their chosen sexual behavior. It’s as simple as that – nothing more and nothing less.
    _________________________

    @jmiller2025

    This is a civil rights issue and comparable to racial discrimination.

  50. mazblast says: Sep 7, 2012 9:50 PM

    daviddmsvcp–While I disagree with your view on the subject, it’s good that we’re both able to express our opinions without having to worry about our respective employers or some hack politician butting in.

    You’re obviously in the minority among those posting here, but I think (hope) that you will be treated with courtesy and respect by those who disagree with you.

  51. ddogdaddy says: Sep 7, 2012 9:52 PM

    Baaaaaaa said the sheep

  52. oi2dwrld says: Sep 8, 2012 12:23 PM

    jmiller2025 says:
    As a rule free speech suppression comes from the left (chick filet, etc.). Please don’t insult my intelligence by suggesting this is a civil rights issue or comparable to racial discrimination. Folks feel that the legal establishment of gay marriage will provide moral justification for their chosen sexual behavior. It’s as simple as that – nothing more and nothing less.

    This is nothing but a civil rights issue, since gay people are fighting for their civil rights. Also, people boycotting CFA is not a government suppression of the first amendment, free speech.

    Perhaps you should take some time to review some elementary school civics, and relearn what it is to be a citizen of the great nation of the United States of America. Because you obviously don’t have even a basic understanding of it’s laws or history.

  53. 2ndaryinsanity says: Sep 8, 2012 7:49 PM

    This politician attempted to use the title of his office to bully the Ravens into applying pressure on one of their players to quit speaking out in favor of equal rights for gay Americans. That should be completely unacceptable to everyone, regardless of your opinion on gay marriage.
    That being said, it’s a breath of fresh air to hear about an NFL player seeing inequality and having the guts to speak out against discrimination.

  54. dannylaruso says: Sep 8, 2012 10:25 PM

    djvicdogg says:
    Sep 7, 2012 6:31 PM
    I had no choice to be Mexican and there is no way I can change that. My race is not a “preference” but being gay is. Nothing against gay people, but don’t insult me by trying to compare your struggle to mine.

    I’m hispanic too, my whole family is. I have gay friends. There is no comparison to the difference in discrimination.

  55. 2ndaryinsanity says: Sep 8, 2012 11:48 PM

    It should not matter if being gay is a “lifestyle choice” or not. It is not okay to deny equal rights to ANY American, gay or straight. I’d like to remind people about the founding principle of our country…which is found in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

  56. 2ndaryinsanity says: Sep 8, 2012 11:57 PM

    @ djvicdogg…. many people (myself included) point out that it used to be socially acceptable (and legal) to discriminate against minorities. It is not meant to be an insult. But it is a fact that gays/lesbians are the only segment of the population where it’s still legal to discriminate against them.

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