BALTIMORE (AP) — Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo says up to four NFL players may soon come out as gay, according to a published report.
"I think it will happen sooner than you think," Ayanbadejo told The Baltimore Sun. "We're in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now and they're trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out.
"Of course, there would be backlash. If they could share the backlash, it would be more positive. It's cool. It's exciting. We're in talks with a few guys who are considering it. The NFL and organizations are already being proactive and open if a player does it and if something negative happens. We'll see what happens."
The treatment of gays and athletes is a hot topic. Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice was fired this week for pushing, shoving and throwing balls at players in November, and addressing players with homophobic slurs. Athletic Director Tim Pernetti resigned after criticism for only suspending and fining the coach after the video was brought to his attention.
Ayanbadejo, 36, was cut the Ravens earlier this week. A strong advocate of gay marriage, he initially suggested the roster move stemmed from his controversial stance.
He backed off that position in an interview with The Sun.
"If they didn't like what I was doing, they would have cut me a long time ago," Ayanbadejo said. "I'm a special-teams player and you can find somebody to do what I did for less than half that value."
Ayanbadejo spoke openly about his belief in gay marriage in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. That echoed a stance he took in November, before Maryland voted to pass a law approving gay marriage.
"It's something I've been passionate about a long time," he said after the election. "Even though it doesn't affect me directly, it affects a lot of my friends. It affects my family. It affects Ravens fans. It affects Marylanders. I've worked very hard on it; I'm especially proud of the Marylanders who went out and voted and made a difference."