At a time when allies are standing up for equality like never before, former Baltimore Ravens’ Linebacker and Super Bowl Champion Brendon Ayanbadejo has made national headlines for his outspoken support of Marriage Equality and attempts to put an end to…
At a time when allies are standing up for equality like never before, former Baltimore Ravens’ Linebacker and Super Bowl Champion Brendon Ayanbadejo has made national headlines for his outspoken support of Marriage Equality and attempts to put an end to anti-LGBT discrimination. A resident of Fort Lauderdale, Ayanbadejo recently spoke at a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court as the Justices deliberated two potential landmark marriage cases.”It’s not enough to have marriage equality in some parts of the country – we need full equality everywhere,” “It is outrageous that in Florida it is still legal to fire gay people or deny them housing. We have to catch up and I’m ready to do my part.”
Following his recent announcement that he has joined forces with Equality Florida to fight for LGBT equality, The Champ will join the organization in hosting “Tackle Equality” on Monday, May 27 at Kitchenetta, 2850 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale.
It was a pleasure to sit down with Brendon to find out more about him.
At what age did you decide Football was going to be your career?
I decided football around my sophomore year of high school. I always loved basketball, but I stopped growing at the age of 14; I was the same height that I am now. It’s pretty hard to make it as a 6’2” basketball player.
You have played on many teams (Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, Amsterdam Admirals, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Toronto Argonauts, B C Lions and the Baltimore Ravens). Which was your favorite and why?
The most amazing feeling, other than winning a championship for the Baltimore Ravens, was playing for the Chicago Bears and also representing them in a Super Bowl. I was born in Chicago, and I lived there till my adolescence, so it was very exciting to play for the team of the city in which I was born and raised.
Describe the feeling of winning the Super Bowl this year?
Winning a Super Bowl was a feeling like no other! I have been there before and lost, both in the NFL and in college, so to finally get back there and win it all was a huge weight off of my shoulders. It is the defining moment of my professional football career and justified my own existence in the NFL.
How has winning the Super bowl changed your life?
It is such a great accomplishment that very few people will ever experience. Combining a Super Bowl win with playing a part of winning marriage equality in Maryland, and standing up for equality throughout the nation, there’s a multiplying effect of personal gratification. Without the two happening in conjunction, I don’t think I would be able to make a difference as a public figure and ally on the forefront that I am today.
Do you and your brother (Obafemi, also a Football player) have a sibling rivalry when it comes to football?
Of course my brother and I compete, but more than anything else we use each other to be better than everybody else, and it’s something that we have both done amazingly well. We are both Super Bowl champions for the Baltimore Ravens, and we both played in the NFL for a decade. Considering the average career is only three years we stamped out a combined 20.
You have been one of the most vocal celebrities for Marriage Equality and LGBT rights. How did this come about and what made you decide to become so vocal?
One day in 2009 I decided to write a piece in the Huffington Post on marriage equality. I was raised to believe that all people are equal and should be treated equal – socially and legislatively. I just didn’t see this happening for the LGBT community and felt that I needed to play a role in making that a reality.
“Brendon has been a tremendous advocate on the national stage and his support is a huge boost to our efforts here in Florida to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Stratton Pollitzer, Deputy Director of Equality Florida. “Every civil rights movement has relied on the support of those in the majority, and at this pivotal moment in the fight for LGBT equality, the visibility of role models like Brendon is crucial,” Pollitzer said.
Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and has been on the forefront of spearheading efforts for equality throughout the state.
Tackle Equality begins at 6:30 pm and is limited to just 100 guests. Tickets are $100 per person and include a delicious and abundant dinner with soft drinks, wine and beer. In addition, a VIP cocktail reception prior to the dinner will afford the opportunity for a meet and greet with Ayanbadejo. VIP tickets are $150 per person. For reservations, please visit EQFL.org or call (813) 870-3735.
“Brendon is a good friend and customer,” said Kitchenetta owner, Vincent Foti. “We are planning a fantastic evening.”