Former NFL player Wade Davis is grateful for Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo's gay marriage support.

In October, Ayanbadejo became the first professional athlete to endorse the Marylanders for Marriage Equality campaign, which successfully lobbied for passage of a bill legalizing gay nuptials in the state. Opponents of the law gathered sufficient signatures to put the measure up to a popular vote in November.

Maryland Delegate Emmett Burns, also a pastor and founder of the Rising Sun First Baptist Church, attempted to muzzle Ayanbadejo by penning a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe was among those who came to Ayanbadejo's defense. On Sunday, Burns reversed course, saying the player has a right to speak his mind.

In an appearance on CNN, Davis, who came out gay earlier this year, said he was grateful for Ayanbadejo's support of marriage equality because the support of straight athletes is more meaningful than that of gay ones.

“It's much bigger than anything a gay athlete can do,” Davis said.

(Related: NFL player Wade Davis comes out gay.)

Ayanbadejo said Burns' actions had brought attention to the issue.

“He really just made it a national issue. And now it's on the front pages of all the papers and all the media. If he wouldn't have wrote his letter, I don't think we would have received this type of attention,” he said. (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)