Brendon Ayanbadejo wants to make it clear, he’s as big a proponent of the Ravens as he is gay marriage.
While his earlier remarks gave the clear impression he thought his release was in part because of his outspoken advocacy, Ayanbadejo has circled back to say he doesn’t think that’s why the Ravens released him.
Ayanbadjeo told Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun Friday morning that he understands and accepts the Ravens decision.
“The Ravens have been backing me, they knew my stance for years and have been facilitating me and organizing me with LGBT and set me up with Equality Maryland, they helped me,” Ayanbadejo said. “If they didn’t like what I was doing, they would have cut me a long time ago. I’m a special-teams player and you can find somebody to do what I did for less than half that value. They can find someone to do the same job.”
Ayanbadejo was due to make $940,000 this year, and his point about economics is a valid one. Even the best special teamers are still just special teamers in the eyes of the accountants, and at a time when the Ravens were retooling their defense to get younger, players such as Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard and others weren’t sacred, so why should a 36-year-old backup be?
But he also makes a valid point about the culture of a locker room. The nail that sticks up gets hammered down, and Ayanbadejo openly courted attention to himself to bring attention to his cause.
“No team wants any situation to be bigger than football,” he said. “I think equality rights is inherently bigger than football, but, in no way, was I distraction for my team. It was a balancing act. I was there to play football. I was also there to promote positive issues, things bigger than football.
“The NFL doesn’t really want that. I was saying the NFL as a whole organization, not just the Ravens. The NFL isn’t talking about politics, immigration policies, war and AIDS. The NFL doesn’t touch those things.
“The NFL keeps it safe, talking about charities for kids and those less fortunate, cancer, stuff like that. I was touching on issues bigger than football. I think the Ravens think I’m mad at them, but I’m absolutely not. I love the Ravens. When I say my bark was louder than my bite. I’m saying I’m not the player I once was and the Ravens did the right thing. They were justified. I have no problem with them at all.”
He shouldn’t. Players such as Ayanbadejo gain a greater value to the team that knows them than to others. Most teams have a guy or two on the roster who hang on an extra few years because they’re smart and accountable and reliable. He was one of those guys for the Ravens.
And he wants to make sure he’s still considered a “Raven for life,” regardless his first words which indicated a problem.