NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on
Wednesday backed Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo's
right to advocate in support of gay marriage.
“I think in this day and age, people
are going to speak up about what they think is important,” Goodell
said at POLITICO.com's Playbook's Lunch with Mike Allen. “They
speak as individuals and that's an important part of democracy.”
Maryland Delegate Emmett Burns, also a
pastor and founder of the Rising First Baptist Church, attempted to
silence Ayanbadejo with a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti
asking that he “inhibit such expressions” in support of
Maryland's upcoming referendum on a gay marriage law approved by
lawmakers. Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe was among those who
came to Ayanbadejo's defense. On Sunday, Burns reversed course,
the player has a right to speak his mind.
Ayanbadejo said in an e-mail released
Wednesday by Marylanders for Marriage Equality that he “was not
“In fact, what happened instead was
pretty amazing – thousands of people joined me and spoke out in
support of marriage equality. I even received messages from Steelers
fans! Instead of being silenced, my team and my league stood with me
in support,” Ayanbadejo wrote.