As the media frenzy that is Super Bowl week descends on the Big Easy, at least one player will be using the forum to address something far more important than gridiron glory: gay rights and marriage equality.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo (a longtime vocal supporter of marriage equality who was criticised here a couple of weeks ago for stooping to Twitter trash talk) has reverted to his normal, noble ways, pledging to use the media spectacle at this year's Super Bowl in New Orleans to discuss his support for gay rights and marriage equality.
Arriving home early in the morning last week, his team heading to the Super Bowl after defeating a certain AFC rival whose name somehow escapes me at this moment, Ayanbadejo sent an impassioned email, "Jerry Macquire" style, "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," Frank Bruni reports for the New York Times.
“Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti- bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?” Ayanbejo wrote is his email, which was sent at close to 4 in the morning.
Such is the very real sports reality where more and more athletes are using their athletic fame to vocally support gay rights and marriage equality. In fact, the Ravens' opponents, the San Francisco Giants, became the first NFL team to make an It Gets Better video this past summer, before their road to the Super Bowl kicked off.
"Super Bowl XLVII is being billed as the Harbaugh Bowl: the battle between Jim and John Harbaugh, head coaches, respectively, of the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. It also pits two NFL teams connected directly and indirectly to the struggles for LGBT rights," Dave Zirin writes for The Nation. "Read that last sentence again, and appreciate for a moment how far fighters for LGBT equality have traveled."
As for Ayanbadejo, "he’s dreaming ... that a Super Bowl victory ... would land him a guest spot on Ellen DeGeneres’s talk show," continues Bruni, "where the two of them could discuss the importance of treating gays and lesbians with more respect—and maybe kid around some, too. They’ve already exchanged mutually admiring messages over Twitter."
“That’s my ultimate goal after the Super Bowl,” Ayanbadejo said to Bruni. “To go on Ellen’s show, to be dancing with her, to bust a move with her.”