Very nice. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo wants to leverage his upcoming appearance at the Super Bowl into a platform for gay rights and marriage equality. That's according to an email Ayanbadejo sent to New York Times columnist Frank Bruni only hours after his team won the AFC Championship.
He tapped out an email to Brian Ellner, a leading marriage-equality advocate with whom he had worked before, and Michael Skolnik, the political director for Russell Simmons, a hip-hop mogul who has become involved in many issues, including same-sex marriage.
Ayanbadejo wrote: “Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti- bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?” The time stamp on the email was 3:40:35 A.M.
The weeks leading up to Superbowl XLVII in New Orleans will be key to building Ayanbadejo's "super" platform.
Throughout his week, Ayanbadejo has been—and will be—talking to gay-rights advocates about how to seize this moment. For example, he’s been swapping emails with Hudson Taylor, the founder and executive director of Athlete Ally, a group dedicated to ridding sports at all levels—high school, college, professional—of homophobia. "He’s so excited and ready to take a stand in whatever way he can," said Taylor. "He is leveraging the biggest sports stage in the world."
He’s also in conversations with Ellner and Skolnik specifically about marriage equality. Said Ellner: “He understands that as a straight biracial player in the Super Bowl, he can have a huge impact on the future of this issue.”
Ayanbadejo says his ultimate goal is to bring his message—and a Super Bowl Ring—on Ellen Degeneres' show. Yaassss.
Ayanbadejo has emerged as one of the most articulate supporters of gay rights in professional sport. The three-time Pro Bowler—who became an internet phenom due to a few strategically-placed accessories—was profiled by the Washington Post for his strong support of gay rights.
Maryland voters made history last November when they chose to uphold the state’s same-sex marriage law. Brendon Ayanbadejo was a vocal advocate for the pro-equality side. Same-sex couples can now legally marry in nine states and the District of Columbia.
Brendon Ayanbadejo Coverage on R20:
Brendon Ayanbadejo Models Nipple Rings on the Field
Ravens LB Brendon Ayanbadejo Supports Marriage Equality
WaPo on Brendon Ayanbadejo's Support for Gay Marriage
Ravens LB Ayanbadejo for Maryland Marriage Equality
Ayanbadejo: "Being Gay is No Big Deal"