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If Brendon Ayanbadejo can't find a job, he'll be OK with retirement

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

Brendon Ayanbadejo still doesn't have a job for next season. (USATSI)
Brendon Ayanbadejo still doesn't have a job for next season. (USATSI)

Brendon Ayanbadejo is not looking back.

Released by the Baltimore Ravens in April, Ayanbadejo remains unemployed, despite coming off a season in which he recorded a career-high total of 43 tackles.

The problem for Ayanbadejo is that he will turn 37 in September and his biggest value comes on special teams. Yes, he had a career year helping the Ravens win the Super Bowl, and yes, the Ravens lost two linebackers -- future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis to retirement and Paul Kruger to free agency. But Ayanbadejo's age plays an important role in the fact that he's still unemployed.

But don't feel sorry for Ayanbadejo. He's certainly not.

"Either way, I'm happy with it," he told USA Today. "If someone needs a linebacker, I'm ready to go. And if not, well, then I'm ready to do the things I haven't had the time to do before. There is a lot of life left to be lived."

After helping Baltimore win the Super Bowl, he has kept himself busy. He hobnobbed with President Obama at the Wednesday ceremony honoring the Ravens, and USA Today points out that he's going to be a guest editor for a LGBT paper called the Washington Blade.

Ayanbadejo has been one of the more vocal supporters in the NFL for gay rights. Along with punter Chris Kluwe, they have been outspoken in their beliefs and both have received their share of criticism. Ironically, both were released this offseason. While Kluwe, who was let go by the Vikings, recently signed with the Oakland Raiders, Ayanbadejo is preparing to proceed in life without football.

Even some of the criticism that Ayanbadejo received has helped his cause. Remember this story about how a Maryland delegate was upset that Ayanbadejo dared use his platform to talk about the gay issue (I mean, what is this: some kind of crazy country that has some sort of silly First Amendment?).

"Many of my constituents and your football supporters are appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens Football Team would step into this controversial divide and try to sway public opinion one way or the other," Emmett C. Burns wrote in a letter to Ayanbadejo. "Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment and excitement."

After that news emerged, Ayanbadejo said he received even more support.

"I have to thank him for making me a global story," Ayanbadejo said. "I've gotten letters from Argentina, Brazil, Australia, all over Europe and the UK, all in support of marriage equality. The guys who put their foot in their mouth make more news than the guys out there doing the right thing."

As for whether that activism has hurt him in the eyes of the league's gate-keepers and job-bestowers, he doesn't think so.

"I graduated college in '99, and I'm going on 37," Ayanbadejo said. "For a guy in my field, I've done everything you can do in the NFL. There's no need to cry for me."

 
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