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TELANDER’S SUNDAY STEW: Several NFL players might come out as gay

BrendAyanbadejo says gay NFL players coming out ‘‘will happen sooner than you think.’’ | Al Bello~Getty Images

Brendon Ayanbadejo says gay NFL players coming out ‘‘will happen sooner than you think.’’ | Al Bello~Getty Images

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Updated: May 8, 2013 6:37AM



This whole gay thing in sports and society is an interesting
phenomenon.

As more gay, lesbian and transgendered people come out from their previously closeted lives, the attitude straight people have about them is changing proportionately. Indeed, it has been noted that nothing makes one as tolerant of homosexuality as learning one’s brother, sister, cousin, uncle, aunt, child, co-worker, best friend, favorite entertainer, boss or teammate is gay.

Why, even conservatives Bill O’Reilly and Sen. Mark Kirk have come out in favor of same-sex marriage, based largely on the principles — freedom and the Constitution — they once felt condemned the practice. Oh, and public opinion.

So it’s interesting that recently released Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, an outspoken activist for gay rights, says the big ‘‘out’’ of a pro football player is coming soon. And, more than that, he suggested the outing will be a group display.

Ayanbadejo told Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun on Friday that several gay NFL players are considering coming out at one time. According to that interview, Ayanbadejo says the group move would buffer whatever bad or controversial things that might occur. Safety in numbers, so to speak.

‘‘I think it will happen sooner than you think,’’ Ayanbadejo said. ‘‘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. . . .

‘‘Of course, there would be backlash. If they could share the backlash, it would be more positive. It’s cool. It’s exciting.’’

Well, it sure is different. The subtext here is that there apparently are numerous gay NFL players Ayanbadejo knows about but the rest of us do not.

Maybe players from other pro sports will come out, too. All at once. Almost like a ceremony. Players from your favorite teams.

Think about it. Wild, huh?

† I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER about retiring U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, from sweet home Peoria, announcing that Mayor Rahm Emanuel will get a $100 million loan to turn part of downtown Chicago’s riverfront into a riverwalk. This is a dream former Mayor Richard M. Daley had for years.

I don’t think Chicagoans realize how astounding the lakefront and the meandering Chicago River are. First-time visitors invariably come here and say, ‘‘Wow, that’s a freshwater ocean!’’ and ‘‘Wow, that river and all those bridges are amazing!’’

OK, that’s in the summertime. Forget winter.

But I have been to San Antonio’s famed Riverwalk many times. It’s nice, but it’s nothing compared to our river. Theirs is more like a creek. I remember seeing some dude, likely drunk, fall into the river one night, and I worried he might drown. Then he stood up in thigh-deep water and climbed out.

Next must thing: fly-fishing in the Chicago River. And not for corpses.

† I FIND THIS STATEMENT about the NCAA’s fetish over amateurism from Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky back in 2011 rather forward-thinking: ‘‘Unless the student-athletes in the revenue-producing sports get more of the pie, the model will eventually break down. . . . It is only a matter of time.”

Yup.

† DOWNSTATE CENTRALIA’S mascot and nickname was judged the best in the nation by USA Today. The school got a $2,000 prize and good hype.

The nickname: the Orphans. The mascot is a red-haired, Raggedy Andy-looking kid with a basketball or football or whatever.
The thing got 25,392,000 online votes.

I salute you, Centralia, with your cheering section known as ‘‘The Orfanage.’’

But is Orphans really better than Cornjerkers, Appleknockers, Wooden Shoes, Bunnies, Midgets, Pretzels or Hot Dogs? Or Nimrods? Or Alices?

Second place went to the Carbon Dinos of Price, Utah. Those creatures got 13 million votes.

I hope this contest happens next year. Everybody who feels jilted — and I’m thinking of you, Frankfort (Ind.) Hot Dogs — start your campaigns.



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