Sunday, February 10, 2013
A Modern Hero For Equality
Model in football shoulder pads
National Football Association (NFL) professional linebacker for the Baltimore, Maryland, Ravens franchise, a 2013 Super Bowl champion and a star athlete. Brendon Ayanbadejo is all of these and much more. He's also and activist, advocate and proponent for inclusion in all aspects of life. He's hardly the equality type that one thinks of when considering his NFL background, a sport that is slowly becoming progressive thanks to his efforts and the efforts of others like him. But Ayanbadejo doesn't easily fit into any convenient mold.
Brendon Ayanbadejo has consistently taken a stand for equality for GLBT people. He's participated in the NOH8 campaigns, It Gets Better (anti-bullying) and during this past election cycle, he strongly encouraged his fellow Maryland voters to support the Question 6 ballot initiative in allowing marriage equality. Thanks to his vigorous advocacy, Maryland voters passed the referendum.
His stand for same gender loving marriage provoked some controversy within his state. Maryland State Delegate Emmett C. Burns, a GOP representative, wrote a letter, dated August 29, 2012, to Ravens owner Steve Biscotti complaining of Brendon's public stance on the measure. Burns urged Biscotti to "take the necessary action...to inhibit such expressions from your employee." The Baltimore NFL franchise acknowledged receipt of the letter, offered no public comment and continued to be supportive of Ayanbadejo.
Ayanbadejo's response to the letter was a simple statement to the media. In the release, he reminded everyone that he was the son of a Nigerian father and an Irish-American mother. Until the Supreme Court ruled against Loving vs. Virginia in 1967, his parents mixed-race marriage was illegal in 16 states.
Now that GLBT marriage is legal in Maryland, Brendon is taking his activism to the next logical level. This week, in an op-ed piece in the daily, USA Today, he offered his support of full equality in the world of professional spots in general and the NFL in particular. He's indeed a man on a mission.
Brendon Ayanbadejo wrote for the newspaper, "A voice says: 'I don't know who he is, or where he is, but he's coming.' The scene captures the anticipation of Jackie Robinson crossing the Major League Baseball color barrier. That moment just before history is made is a moment that sure feels a lot like now, as we wait for the arrival of the first openly gay man in U.S. major professional sports.
This is our time and our cause. Everything we know as athletes, teammates, spokesmen and vehicles of American pastimes compels us toward the kind of action and camaraderie we saw from Pee Wee Reese nearly 66 years ago. It's as simple as putting our arm around the shoulder of another athlete. It's a gesture; it's a pledge; it's solidarity at its most basic. Our Jackie is coming. We need to pave the way."
To read the entire op-ed article, go to: http://www.usatoday.com . Click the "search" icon and enter Brendon Ayanbadejo.
Baltimore Raven linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo
Oladele Brendon Ayanbadejo was born in the USA on September 6, 1976. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Nigeria. When his parents separated, he moved back to the U.S. with his mother. He graduated Santa Cruz High School in Santa Cruz, California. He graduated University of California, Los Angeles and played football for the UCLA Bruins.
He first signed with the NFL for the Atlanta, Georgia, Falcons in 1999, as an undrafted free agent. He has played with the Ravens since 2008. His older brother, Obafemi Ayanbadejo, is also a NFL pro. His has two children, Anaya Lee Ayanbadejo, a daughter born August, 2006; and a son, Amadeus Prime Ayanbadejo, born April, 2011.
Mr. Oladele Brendon Ayanbadejo is a man who stands with integrity and honor. He uses his celebrity and influence to support fairness and justice. He is truly a hero not only for our time, but for all time. We need more heroes with his courage and conviction!
Peace! Get naked. Enjoy!