With the national spotlight shining on the Super Bowl-bound Ravens this week, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo is apparently hoping to divert some attention off the gridiron.
According to New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, just hours after Baltimore’s AFC championship win, Ayanbadejo directed an e-mail to marriage equality advocates asking how he could utilize the increased Super Bowl media to help support same-sex marriage.
Writing at 3:40 a.m. on Monday morning, according to Bruni, Ayanbadejo asked gay rights advocate Brian Ellner and Michael Skolnik, political director to Russell Simmons, whether there was “anything I can do for marriage equality or anti-bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media.”
Later dubbing the note his "Jerry Maguire email," a reference to the late-night mission statement penned by Tom Cruise’s character in the eponymous 1996 sports flick, Ayanbadejo told Bruni: "I got to thinking about all kinds of things, and I thought: how can we get our message out there?"
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.
Ayanbadejo’s ultimate goal is contingent on the outcome of the Super Bowl. His hope, he told Bruni, is that a Ravens’ Super Bowl victory gets him an appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime talk show, where he can discuss gay rights and "bust a move with her."
This isn't the first time a missive about the Ravens linebacker’s outspoken stance on same-sex marriage has garnered national media attention. In September, leading up to Maryland’s ballot initiative on the issue, a Baltimore County politician asked Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to silence Ayanbadejo and urge him to "concentrate on football."
In response to that letter, Vikings punter Chris Kluwe – who has also received widespread attention for his views on gay rights – penned an expletive-heavy letter of his own supporting Ayanbadejo’s right to free expression.