By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun
12:42 AM EDT, April 5, 2013
In New York, where he was to be honored at Thursday night's Straight for Equality Gala, Brendon Ayanbadejo suggested to a local newspaper reporter that one of the reasons that he was cut by the Ravens was his outspoken advocacy for same-sex marriage — a suggestion he later distanced himself from on Twitter.
“My bark is louder than my bite,” Ayanbadejo told Newsday. “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?”
Ayanbadejo later clarified his comments on Twitter, writing: “Just a heads up I did an interview today and no way said I was cut because my views. I said my talk was louder than my production & at 36 when you are not producing it is a fair move. You can find cheaper guys to do what I do. Ravens are the BEST organization in the nfl period!”
The Ravens officially announced Thursday the release of Ayanbadejo, a reserve linebacker and special teams standout who turns 37 in September and was due to make $940,000 in base salary in 2013.
“We're surprised that he would indicate this. We have always been respectful of Brendon's opinions and his right to express those,” Kevin Byrne, the Ravens' senior vice president for public and community relations, said after hearing of the initial Newsday report. “Our decision regarding his departure from the team has everything to do with football. Nothing else.”
Ayanbadejo's release left the Ravens without eight of their nine oldest players from the team that won Super Bowl XLVII a little more than two months ago.
In announcing the roster move, general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh praised Ayanbadejo, who played 62 games, including four starts, over five seasons and made 83 tackles to go along with 4.5 sacks and one interception.
“As a team, we place a high value on special teams, and Brendon was one of our top performers in that area for the last five seasons,” Newsome said. “He was one of the best special teamers in the league, but he was also a valued member of our defense, especially in our [substitute] packages. He became a leader for us, and the door may not be closed to bring him back to help us again.”
Ayanbadejo — who compared himself to a kid on Christmas morning after Question6 was passed in Maryland in November, legalizing same-sex marriage in the state — had been complimentary in the past of the support he had received from the organization. That included in September when Maryland Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr. wrote to Steve Bisciotti about Ayanbadejo, urging the Ravens owner to “inhibit such expressions from your employee.”
Ayanbadejo has not returned recent phone calls from The Baltimore Sun. He thanked the Ravens and the city of Baltimore on his Twitter account Wednesday. He also posted a positive message about the organization Thursday.
“What's all this nonsense about me not being a raven anymore?” Ayanbadejo wrote. “I will forever be a raven & walk with Baltimore as the 1 true champion.”
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