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Brendon Ayanbadejo: 'Up to four' players considering coming out

By Evan Hilbert | CBSSports.com

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Former Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has long been an advocate for gay rights. (USATSI)

Last week, NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth discussed the possibility of multiple players coming out as gay. On Friday, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo echoed those sentiments.

Brendon Ayanbadejo in the news

"I think it will happen sooner than you think," Ayanbadejo said, according to the Baltimore Sun. "We're in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now and they're trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out."

Ayanbadejo -- among others -- has been an outspoken proponent for sexual equality, and he says the NFL is sensitive to the matter.

"I had a great talk with [NFL vice president of player engagement] Troy Vincent," Ayanbadejo said. "The NFL wants to be proactive about what's going on with players and some of the remarks and incidents that have been happening with the LGBT community. The NFL wants me to talk to the rookie class and they are talking about potentially having talks with all the guys about LGBT sensitivity. I think all the major sports groups need to be productive and take a stance."

For Ayanbadejo and others, the question isn't if but when a gay player comes out. Some players have suggested that the atmosphere is right for a gay player, but a major concern is the reaction of fans.

"I honestly think the players of the NFL have been ready for an openly gay player for quite some time now," free-agent linebacker Scott Fujita told CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman. "Trust me, the coming out of a player would create much bigger waves outside the locker room than inside. The way I've seen the conversation around LGBT issues evolve, especially in the past few years, has been encouraging. Guys are more accepting than they used to be. Even those who raise personal objections to homosexuality, some of whom are good friends of mine, would still be able to coexist and accept a gay teammate."

Both Foxworth and Ayanbadejo understand what it will be like publicly when a gay player does come out, which is why a multitude of players doing so simultaneously would make sense.

“When the public finds out about it, it's going to be a media storm and it's going to be a lot of press and a lot of attention, and probably not all of it's gonna be positive,” Foxworth said last week. “But the NFLPA, as long as I'm president of it, is going to be behind that player and providing support."

 
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