The League

Jason Maloni
Crisis Communications Expert

Jason Maloni

Senior Vice President with
Levick Strategic Communications
and Chair of the firm's Sports & Entertainment Practice.

Gay Marriage vs. Cross

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Brendon Ayanbadejo should be applauded for expressing his opinion on such a controversial subject and in such a thoughtful way. Whether you agree with him or not, one must recognize the courage he displayed to take a stand on a divisive, non-football issue.

Athletes are occasionally forced to take positions on contentious matters like Muhammad Ali's opposition to the Vietnam War. Other times, they choose to inject politics into sports, like the 1968 Olympics Black Power salute delivered by African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos. As pubic figures, their opinions, protests, and observations carry a great deal of weight. Like it or not, sports figures are role models and their take on public affairs, pop culture, fashion, and highly-charged political matters has an impact on the broader public.

One can only hope that Ayanbadejo's enlightened opinion, expressed outside of the football field, has a positive impact on his peers. Too often, athletes avoid controversy so coaches, sports writers, and fans will see that they have no other focus other than sports.

A more interesting personal expression I observed this week was Mike Singletary's rather large cross that he wore during the 49ers game against the Seattle Seahawks. The NFL has very rigid uniform policy and one might think this the league office in New York would take notice:

"Throughout the period on game-day that a player is visible to the stadium and television audience (including in pregame warm-ups, in the bench area, and during postgame interviews in the locker room or on the field), players are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or otherwise conveying personal messages either in writing or illustration, unless such message has been approved in advance by the League office."

This policy prohibits even Lance Armstrong "Live Strong"-style bracelets. I am surprised no one from the league office has talked to Coach Singletary about it. Unlike Ayanbadejo public opinion expressed outside of football, Singletary's cross would seem to be a very overt violation of the NFL's uniform policy because it was displayed during a game broadcast on National television. Singletary is an ordained Baptist minister and no one is suggesting he shouldn't celebrate his faith outside of the workplace.

However, I find it odd that this matter has been completely overlooked in favor of an articulate, appropriate expression by Ayanbadejo. Perhaps different rules apply for the Minister of Defense.

By Jason Maloni  |  September 25, 2009; 12:06 PM ET  | Category:  Baltimore Ravens Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Comments

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It's a war on Christmas!!! would be the rallying cry if the NFL dared to make a comment about Singletary. They don't want to drive fans to NASCAR by angering the funddies

Posted by: theobserver4 | September 25, 2009 1:25 PM

This is probably the stupidest thing I have ever read in my life. How can you compare a symbol of love with gay sex. Every athlete wears a cross you don't see them holding hands in the showers do you? Get a grip on reality.

Posted by: cantorjj | September 25, 2009 1:31 PM

Good point.
Where is the coach on this one?
Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace,
Washington, Connecticut, USA.

Posted by: cornetmustich | September 25, 2009 3:13 PM

One man's love is another man's gay sex there cantor... I agree that the league should talk to coach Mike about it privately.

Posted by: ozpunk | September 26, 2009 2:18 PM

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