NFL linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo received caustic criticism recently for his support of marriage equality. Maryland pastor and state house of delegates-member Emmett C. Burns Jr. (D-Baltimore County) wrote the following of Ayanbadejo’s exercise of free speech, “‘I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo would publicly endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically as a Raven Football player.'”
But, the Baltimore Ravens’ player may have a more diverse history of controversial remarks, as the Yahoo! News article cites his history, “He’s written columns for his hometown paper, the Santa Cruz Sentinel. He’s fought for federal legislation requiring schools to monitor kids’ physical activities and promote proper nutrition. He’s worked relentlessly on environmental sustainability issues.”
Wetzel also provides the following, and conclusive information: as Maryland has recently approved same-sex marriage, and that it now faces a ballot in November elections; Burns is desperate and biased – as he himself helped approved the coming ballot to try and overturn Maryland’s step toward marriage equality.
If a professional athlete’s actions are “inconceivable” in these matters. . . it’s because he’s actually taking the time to care about issues that may not directly involve his image or in fact be placing it in the unfavorable views of others to support a greater good.
Brendon Ayanbadejo does not sacrifice his freedom of speech because he has attained celebrity as a professional athlete. He does not have to sacrifice his right to free speech because it is unfavorable to the opinions of another. Free speech used to support freedom should, however, receive special attention, and Ayanbadejo’s use of his time and celebrity to draw attention to issues that affect others is far more honorable than it is reprehensible.