Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo says up to four NFL players may soon come out as gay, according to a published report.
“I think it will happen sooner than you think,” Ayanbadejo told 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.
“Of course, there would be backlash. If they could share the backlash, it would be more positive. It’s cool. It’s exciting. We’re in talks with a few guys who are considering it. The NFL and organizations are already being proactive and open if a player does it and if something negative happens. We’ll see what happens.”
The treatment of gays and athletes is a hot topic. Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice was fired this week for pushing, shoving and throwing balls at players in November, and addressing players with homophobic slurs. Athletic Director Tim Pernetti resigned after criticism for only suspending and fining the coach after the video was brought to his attention.
Ayanbadejo, 36, was cut by the Ravens earlier this week. A strong advocate of gay marriage, he initially suggested the roster move stemmed from his controversial stance.
He backed off that position in an interview with The Sun.
“If they didn’t like what I was doing, they would have cut me a long time ago,” Ayanbadejo said. “I’m a special-teams player and you can find somebody to do what I did for less than half that value.”
Ayanbadejo spoke openly about his belief in gay marriage in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. That echoed a stance he took in November, before Maryland voted to pass a law approving gay marriage.
“It’s something I’ve been passionate about a long time,” he said after the election. “Even though it doesn’t affect me directly, it affects a lot of my friends. It affects my family. It affects Ravens fans. It affects Marylanders. I’ve worked very hard on it; I’m especially proud of the Marylanders who went out and voted and made a difference.”
RAIDERS WAIVE LB McCLAIN
The Oakland Raiders waived linebacker Rolando McClain on Friday, less than three years after drafting him eighth overall to be the centerpiece of their defense.
McClain was mostly a disappointment in Oakland. He struggled during his first two years and then clashed with coach Dennis Allen and his staff last season.
McClain had his role significantly reduced last season, was suspended for two games for conduct detrimental to the team, and did not play the final five games of the season.
“I’d like to thank the Raiders for giving me an opportunity to play in the NFL,” McClain said in a statement. “I’m disappointed that it hasn’t worked out better, but I’m very excited and thankful for the Raiders allowing me to get a fresh start. I will miss my teammates and wish them and the Raiders organization good luck going forward.”
In 41 career games with Oakland, McClain has 6½ sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, no fumble recoveries and did little to help improve Oakland’s struggling run defense.
The Raiders have already found McClain’s replacement, having signed former Chicago linebacker Nick Roach in free agency last month.
McClain still had two years left on the $40 million, five-year rookie contract he signed in 2010. That deal included $23 million in guarantees.
McClain is the third player drafted in the top 10 by late owner Al Davis to be let go so far this offseason by second-year general manager Reggie McKenzie. Defensive back Michael Huff (seventh pick in 2006) and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (seventh pick in ‘09) were cut last month.
Oakland has only two of its own first-round picks on the roster in running back Darren McFadden and kicker Sebastian Janikowski as McKenzie overhauls the roster. There are only 15 players left who were part of the organization at the end of the 2011 season.
LIONS SIGN AKERS
The Detroit Lions didn’t have to look long for a new kicker.
Detroit added four-time All-Pro David Akers, one day after Jason Hanson retired.
Akers’ agent, Jerrold Colton, confirmed Friday that he and the Lions agreed to terms. Colton declined to give details when asked if Akers got a one-year contract.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to play for the Lions’ organization,” Akers told The Associated Press. “I’m not trying nor would I be able to fill the likes of Jason’s shoes. He is and will always be a legend as far as I’m concerned. That being said, it will be an honor to attempt to follow in his footsteps. It will be great to be near my extended family as we strive to for a championship.”
Akers’ wife’s family is originally from the Detroit area.
Hanson hung up his cleats Thursday, ending his 21-year, record-breaking career with the Lions.
San Francisco released Akers a month ago after he slumped during the 2012 season. The six-time Pro Bowl kicker made 73 of 94 field goals over two seasons for the 49ers. His 297 points over the past two seasons led the league.
He underwent double hernia surgery in February 2012 then aggravated the area during the season when he slipped on the field during practice. Akers told The Associated Press in March that he was feeling well after having a surgical procedure.
Akers has made 367 of 453 field goals in his career with Washington, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
He set NFL records in 2011 with 44 field goals made and 52 attempted. Akers also tied the league mark for the longest made when he made a 63-yard kick in the season-opening win at Green Bay last year, bouncing the ball off the crossbar and through the upright.
Akers, though, made just 29 of 44 attempts last season for his lowest percentage since 1999 when he made three of six kicks in his first season in Philadelphia. His poor performance for the 49ers included two potential game-winning kicks in separate overtime games against the St. Louis Rams, leading to a tie and a loss.
The 38-year-old Akers particularly struggled from long range, missing more than half of his attempts from 40 yards or more.
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