Ayanbadejo points to gay-rights support as one reason for release

Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, a vocal and outspoken supporter of gay rights believes his support for gay rights was one of the reasons he was released on Thursday.

"My bark is louder than my bite," Ayanbadejo told Newsday Thursday evening at the Straight for Equality Gala in New York, where he and Vikings punter Chris Kluwe were honored. "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?

"I don't necessarily think that teams want this type of attention," he continued before acknowledging that there were other reasons Baltimore decided to let him go.

The Ravens denied the 10-year veteran's claims that his support and outspoken nature on gay rights had anything to do with his release.

"We're surprised that he would indicate this. We have always been respectful of Brendon's opinions and his right to express those," Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne told the Baltimore Sun. "Our decision regarding his departure from the team has everything to do with football. Nothing else."

Ayanbadejo said he understands from a football perspective why he was released when factoring in his age, productivity and salary.

The 36-year-old Ayanbadejo played primarily on special teams last year. He had a career-high 30 tackles from scrimmage last season for the Super Bowl champions, a sack and 14 stops on special teams.

"He was a tremendous contributor to our success, both on (special) teams and for our defense over the last five seasons, including our Super Bowl two months ago," coach John Harbaugh said earlier on Thursday. "And, he was a pleasure to have on our team. We'll stay in contact, I hope, but I'll miss our regular conversations."

If he has played his last game, Ayanbadejo knows the path he wants to follow.

"One thing I want to do is I want to facilitate change and be a catalyst for change," Ayanbadejo said. "I want the NFL to make a stance. Other Fortune 500 companies, Apple, Google, they've taken a stance against discrimination."