Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said he was misquoted in comments suggesting his public advocacy for gay rights played a role in his release this week. The Ravens pushed back on those comments Thursday night.
At a Straight For Equality gala in Manhattan, where Ayanbadejo was being honored along with Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings, the linebacker was quoted as saying this to Tom Rock of Newsday:
"My bark is louder than my bite," he said. "I make a lot of noise and garner a lot of attention for various things off the football field. When that starts happening, why do you have that player around?"
This seemed to suggest that his advocacy played a role in his release, something the Ravens strongly denied. "We're surprised that he would indicate this. We have always been respectful of Brendon's opinions and his right to express those," Kevin Byrne, the Ravens' senior vice president for public and community relations, said. "Our decision regarding his departure from the team has everything to do with football. Nothing else."
Ayanbadejo then took to Twitter to blame the writer for "misquoting" him. "Did a interview a few hours ago with this rock guy at lgbt event and I see some yellow journalism taking place." In a series of tweets, he said:
Just a heads up I did an interview today and no way said I was cut because my views. I said my talk was louder than my production & at 36. When you are not producing it is a fair move. You can find cheaper guys to do what I do. Ravens are the BEST organization in the nfl period! ...
[Team president] Dick Cass and the @ravens had my back all year. Why would I say I was cut cuz my views? Makes no sense.
Whether or not Ayanbadejo was misquoted, I don't believe his release had anything to do with his vocal support for gay rights. He's 36 and the Ravens have released eight of their nine oldest players, including the likes of Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin. They played a much bigger role in the team's Super Bowl season than Ayanbadejo, a special teamer. Coach John Harbaugh praised Ayanbadejo's leadership and the team indicated it is open to bringing him back prior to the start of training camp. In addition, cutting him saves the team $800,000.