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Brendon Ayanbadejo has spent the last five seasons with the Ravens. / Greg Bartram, USA TODAY Sports

As a backup linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, Brendon Ayanbadejo doesn't garner a ton of attention on stat sheets.

Yet at Super Bowl media day Tuesday, the 36-year-old veteran was at the center of a circle of reporters thanks to his outspoken views on a series of social issues.

"Doing what's right in this day and age, you shouldn't be applauded for that," Ayanbadejo said. "I was the first athlete to talk about (marriage equality) when a lot of athletes weren't talking about it."

In addition to his views in favor of same-sex marriage, which made headlines earlier this fall, Ayandbadejo has been a vocal proponent of the league's anti-bullying efforts and Play 60 campaigns.

"Having grown up in Santa Cruz in a pretty progressive city there are things I learned when I was 11, 12 are coming to fruition today whether it's holistic medicine or equal rights or medical marijuana," Ayanbadejo said. "People in Santa Cruz were already doing that."

The 10-year-veteran's views on marriage equality weren't echoed in his own locker room this season, with teammates Matt Birk and Bernard Pollard vocally disagreeing.

Earlier Tuesday several members of the 49ers said that it wouldn't have mattered if ex-teammate Kwame Harris had been openly gay when they played together in the mid-2000s. Ayanbadejo reflected on whether some of his own teammates who opposed same-sex marriage would be as welcoming.

"I think if you're a great person and play high-caliber football, (the league) is ready for (an openly gay active player,)" he said. "They might disagree with same-sex marriage but I think they'd still treat a player equally."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Ayanbadejo relishes role as progressive spokesman

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