The Baltimore Ravens cut veteran linebacker and special teams contributor Brendon Ayanbadejo on Thursday after five seasons with the team. In the aftermath after his release, there were conflicting reports over whether he believed his staunch advocacy of LGBT rights and marriage equality played a role in the team's decision to part ways.
Initially, Ayanbadejo took to Twitter to make it clear that he felt he will "forever be a Raven."
Despite this initially upbeat reaction on Thursday afternoon, Ayanbadejo seemed to suggest to Newsday later that night at the Straight for Equality Gala in New York that his vocal support for gay rights could have been a factor in his release.
"My bark is louder than my bite," Ayanbadejo told Tom Rock of Newsday, via NFL.com. "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?"
On Friday, the three-time Pro Bowl selection spoke with The Baltimore Sun and took to Twitter to clarify his stance.
In an hour-long interview with Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, Ayanbadejo reiterated his positive feelings about the Ravens organization.
"They do things the right way," Ayanbadejo said. "I'm totally cool with them. I'm a Raven for life."
Aside from clearing the air on his release, Ayanbadejo also revealed that as many as four current NFL players could come out as gay on the same day at some point in the near future.
"We're in talks with a handful of players who are considering it," Ayanbadejo told The Baltimore Sun. "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."
More from the Associated Press:
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens have terminated the contract of reserve linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, a three-time Pro Bowler on special teams.
Ayanbadejo has played 10 seasons in the NFL, the last five with Baltimore. He started four games at linebacker for the Ravens, but his main contribution was on special teams.
General manager Ozzie Newsome announced the move Thursday.
Ayanbadejo has been an open proponent for gay marriage, a stance he reiterated in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.
The 36-year-old Ayanbadejo had a career-high 30 tackles from scrimmage last season for the Super Bowl champions. He also had a sack and 14 stops on special teams.
He made the Pro Bowl on special teams in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Ayanbadejo started his career with Miami in 2003.