Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo was nearly as popular a media target this morning as Chris Culliver.
But the long-time advocate of gay marriage said he’s not surprised to hear the homophobic message that landed Culliver in the spotlight this morning, and hopes that having apologized, Culliver can grow as a person.
Asked about Culliver’s initial suggestion that a gay player wouldn’t be welcome in the locker room, Ayanbadejo replied: “It’s pretty normal, it’s pretty normal behavior.”
Ayanbadejo has long preached a message of tolerance, and said Ravens teammates know there aere certain things they might think that they just don’t say around him. But he acknowledged that seeing Culliver under such scrutiny and being forced to apologize will do more to curb overt examples of exclusion than anything he can say from a positive perspective.
“I think in San Francisco, and being from the Bay Area myself, we really try to preach love and acceptance of everybody,” Ayanbadejo said. “I couldn’t really say anything negative to the young man. It’s just one of those things you have to live and you have to learn. In the words of Martin Luther King, ‘you can’t fight hate with hate, you have to fight hate with love.’
“We’ve all made our mistakes, we’ve done certain things and we’ve hurt people if we meant to do it or not. But more than anything, it’s an opportunity to have a learning experience. . . .
“We’ve kind of seen that happen this time. we just have to all learn from this mistake. He apologized, and hopefully he’ll learn. He’s in the Bay Area, so I think he’s going to learn and he’s going to grow and be a better person for it.”
The truth of the matter is, there are many players who believe the same thing Culliver said, he’s just the poor devil who got caught saying it.
The real question becomes whether the public shaming drives the issue further underground, and makes it harder for the league to accept an active gay player.