Less than 24 hours after garnering attention by claiming to be involved in talks with as many as four gay NFL players who were considering coming out publicly on the same day, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo backtracked a bit.
While discussing his release by the Super Bowl champs and his advocacy of marriage equality and gay rights with The Baltimore Sun on Friday, the 36-year-old generated headlines by asserting that the NFL would have its first openly gay player "sooner than you think."
"I think it will happen sooner than you think," Ayanbadejo told Aaron Wilson of 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."
In a subsequent interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN on Friday evening, Ayanbadejo tempered expectations, conceding he doesn't actually know the players.
"No, actually, what it is is, is there are organizations I'm in contact with, and there are individuals I'm in contact with and collectively we know of some gay players. And these players, some of them are anonymous, some of them we know who they are, but their identity is super secret and nobody wants to reveal who they are, and some of them don't want to reveal who they are, rightfully so because it's entirely up to them what they are gonna do."
"What we want to facilitate is getting them all together so they can lean on each other, so they can have a support group. And potentially, it's possible, it's fathomable, that they could possibly do something together, and break a story together. And one of them had voiced that he would like to break his story with someone else and not do it alone....Not all these athletes are in the NFL. Some are in other sports as well."
"I think it makes them hyper vigilant, that if there's anything out there, maybe a picture on Facebook, that someone can read as gay, you immediately get afraid," Davis told Outsports. "I'd be deathly afraid that my cover's blown or maybe I didn't do a good enough job. It would make me really afraid. In some ways, the issue not being talked about it made me feel safer because I never thought, 'Somebody might be wondering about me.'"
In January 2013, Davis told The Daily Beast that he knew of three gay players in the NFL who were semi-open with their teammates.