The League

Josh Zerkle
National Blogger

Josh Zerkle

Editor of the sports gossip and humor site With Leather

Lots to Say, Not Much Play


The Huffington Post didn't print Brendon Ayanbadejo's thoughts about gay marriage back in April for its blinding insight, eloquence, or refreshing perspective, because his piece has none of those things. It's much more reasonable to assume that the braintrust at Huffpo did so because Ayanbadejo plays linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, which in America makes him notable. Ayanbadejo's vocation makes him a name, even if that name is a mishmash of vowels and consonants.

But to say that same-gender marriage's gridiron champion "plays linebacker" for the Ravens is to do so liberally, no pun intended. Ayanbadejo doesn't even start, and he's barely averaged a tackle per game over the length of his career. No matter; he wears the jersey and the helmet, and that's good enough to parade his opinions through America's sports pages.

Fans may not appreciate his stance, but what can they do? They can't boo him when he runs onto the field; the guy never plays! Nobody will be boycotting the games, at least not from the people that can still afford to go. And how many people outside of his immediate family were buying his jersey, anyway?

Outspokenness from someone like Ayanbadejo is a rarity. Athletes are, far and away, the least likely celebrities to abuse their privileged place in society. Many view the media with attitudes ranging from skepticism to contempt, while a handful of others simply play The Other Game with the gaggle of media that have nothing better to do than follow them around.

Conversely, people in the spotlight often feel compelled to use their fame as a microphone for whatever message they feel best positions them as out of touch with Middle America. Whether it's Al Gore for the environment, Bono for world peace, or Lindsey Lohan for amazingly poor life choices... You get the idea.

After dueling it out on the field for three hours or more, the enterprising jock will join the media to play The Other Game, offering bite-sized quotations with the same level of polish as his three-step drop or a fade-away jumper. But that guy does it because he's popular with the media; that is to say that he likes them because they like him. And he knows that a cultivated relationship with them puts his name in the paper, his face on TV, and possibly his signature on the dotted line of a fat endorsement contract.

The rank-and-file athlete like Brendon has no such opportunity waiting for him, and in turn, has less incentive to play The Game. But maybe Brendon -- a career journeyman that even spent three seasons in the CFL -- has found a different way to play. Mothers love it, because it's less work than actually teaching values to their kids. Athletes love to talk, too. And it's refreshing to encounter one that actually had something to say.

By Josh Zerkle  |  September 25, 2009; 2:34 PM ET  | Category:  Baltimore Ravens , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Gay Marriage vs. Cross | Next: Speak up Players


Please email us to report offensive comments.

you sound like a queef. there's got to be something better to waste you talentless writing on. first i think we need to check what you've done in you life so far. your veiw would change if only you could get that fat bald head out of your ass. he's a special teams player any cheese? tell your boyfriend i said hello

Posted by: ksekulski | September 25, 2009 4:42 PM

Josh Zerkle says:

"Athletes are, far and away, the least likely celebrities to abuse their privileged place in society."

Wow, Josh Zerkle. Just. Wow.

Any ounce of credibility you had really went out the window with that very, very, very stupid statement. (and let's face it, your writing skills gave you maybe 1.5 ounces to begin with, dude.)

Posted by: Bill4321 | September 25, 2009 4:45 PM

Josh, you rightly called b.s. on HuffPo's posturing and at the same time acknowledged Ayanbendejo's principled stand. Nicely done.

Posted by: MarkJabo | September 28, 2009 9:24 AM

Mr. Zerkle, you need to do your homework. Brendon Ayanbadejo is listed as "linebacker" on the roster, but he has been selected to the Pro Bowl three times as a special teams player when he played for Chicago. He's no schlub at all.

Posted by: kkend4tn | September 28, 2009 10:20 AM

You are very bad at your job. Did you do even the most basic investigating before writing this article, other then check the Ravens depth chart on yahoo sports? Did you google Ayanbadejo, or email the Post's beat writer for the Ravens, or contact the Ravens PR dept, or watch a game, or consider contacting Ayanbadejo directly? From what I read, you did none of the above, and your lack of professionalism shows in your writing. A sophomore journalism major would have done at least one of those actions and would have learned that Brandon is, as mentioned in another comment, a Pro Bowl special teams player, a team captain, and an otherwise well rounded individual. If you watched the game Sunday you would have seen that he had a great deal of playing time, and had an interception. If you would have contacted him you could have asked his motivations for making the comment. If you would have contacted the Ravens, you could have gotten his teammates response to his statements. This is a poor excuse for an article.

Posted by: mho518 | September 28, 2009 3:16 PM

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