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Brendon Ayanbadejo praises Ravens, says groundwork being laid for gay NFL players to come out

Brendon Ayanbadejo received an award (D Dipasupil/Getty Images) Brendon Ayanbadejo was honored at a Straight for Equality Gala in New York. (D Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Brendon Ayanbadejo told The Baltimore Sun Friday morning the he doesn't believe he was cut because of his strong advocacy for same-sex marriage and gay rights, and the groundwork is being laid for NFL players -- as many as four -- to come out simultaneously.

The Ravens terminated the linebacker and special teams player's contract Thursday.

Ayanbadejo praised the Ravens for their support of his role as a spokesman for gay causes, while distancing himself from his interview Thursday night with Newsday at a Straight for Equality Gala in New York in which he seemed to suggest that his beliefs were one of the reasons the Super Bowl champions released him.

He told The Sun:

"The Ravens have been backing me, they knew my stance for years and have been facilitating me and organizing me with LGBT and set me up with Equality Maryland. They helped me," said Ayanbadejo, who was due a $940,000 base salary this year entering the second year of a three-year, $3.22 million contract. "If they didn't like what I was doing, they would have cut me a long time ago.

Ayanbadejo said the groundwork is being laid to reduce the pressure on a NFL player coming out during his career, and said as many as four players could conceivably come out simultaneously.

He told The Sun:

"I think it will happen sooner than you think," Ayanbadejo said. "We're in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now and they're trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out.

"Of course, there would be backlash. If they could share the backlash, it would be more positive. It's cool. It's exciting. We're in talks with a few guys who are considering it. The NFL and organizations are already being proactive and open if a player does it and if something negative happens. We'll see what happens."
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