|Ravens LB Brendon Ayanbadejo believes the first openly gay player will come out by 2015. (USATI)|
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has been one of the NFL's most vocal supporters of gay rights and he thinks that an openly gay player in the league is something that's going to happen in the near future.
"I think it's going to happen really soon ... In the next year or the following year," Ayanbadejo said on MSNBC's The Ed Show Wednesday, via SI.com. "I feel like we're going to see our Jackie Robinson, our pioneer for gay rights and equality and we're going to be there to support that player and make sure he has a support group around him."
Gay players in the NFL have been a hot topic recently thanks to Chris Culliver's Super Bowl comments, among other headlines, but the issue picked up more steam at the NFL Combine when Colorado tight end Nick Kasa revealed that he was asked during a combine interview if he "liked girls."
The question potentially violated the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act and raised the ire of the NFL, who quickly released a statement saying, "It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process."
Ayanbadejo's take on the Kasa situation? He said if an NFL prospect doesn't like girls, the best thing for that player to do when asked about it is lie to improve their draft stock.
"Selfishly, I think players need to say that they're straight right now," Ayanbadejo said. "You need to get drafted as high as you can get drafted, get the money while you can, your career's only going to last 3.5 years."
"The way things are going right now with the bigotry that still exists and discrimination that still exists within the locker room and sports arena in general, I think you need to say, 'Hey, I'm straight. I love women.' And keep things so-called normal," Ayanbadejo said. "Maybe later, once you've established yourself and when we break down some of these walls in the NFL, players will be more comfortable to be who they are."
The questions Kasa was asked at the combine are technically illegal for an employer to ask a potential employee, but that doesn't mean everyone thinks the 'mystery team' was wrong to ask them.
In an appearance on SportsCenter on Thursday, San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis said that he "would" want to know about Te'o's sexuality and that he "would ask the same question" if he had been questioning players at the combine. But despite saying he would ask the same questions that Kasa was asked, Davis didn't make it clear whether or not he would be accepting of a gay teammate.
Davis' San Francisco teammate Chris Culliver came under fire during Super Bowl week when he said he doesn't "do the gay guys, man." Culliver later apolgized for his comments and said he would work with LGBT teens during the offseason.
Until the NFL has an openly gay player, this is a subject that won't be going away.
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