Anderson Cooper | Brendon Ayanbadejo | Football (American) | News | Sports

Anderson Cooper Talks to Brendon Ayanbadejo About the '4 Players', Being an Ally, the 'F' Word, and His Sexuality: VIDEO


Former Baltimore Raven linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo sat down with Anderson Cooper last night for a nice interview about his work in LGBT rights advocacy. Anderson asked him what propelled him to be an ally, what he hears in the locker room, whether his own sexuality is questioned in the process of fighting for equality, and about those rumors of the 4 NFL players planning to come out.

Cnn_ayanbadejoAyanbadejo tempers expectations a bit on his more precise statements earlier, and the idea of a 'fantastic four' of gay football players now seems much more hypothetical.

Says Ayanbadejo:

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.


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  1. i don't think the ultimate problem will be the team or the locker room. i believe it will be the neanderthals in the stands. we've seen various European teams actually walk off the field because of the slurs & jabs at players. i can understand how players would be more afraid than in other areas. they would be in front of tens of thousands of people and it only takes ONE person to turn a crowd into a mob...

    Posted by: mike/ | Apr 6, 2013 9:39:17 AM

  2. The two interviews Brendon gave make it more clear that a player coming out isn't quite as on the precipice as we may have thought early yesterday. But we should all be thankful for Brendon Ayanbadejo because he's catching a lot of heat for us and taking the punches to make things easier for any proverbial out player. He's a true ally and a hero.

    ESPN polled people on the issue of gay players and 45% said they wouldn't want their favorite to come out (and a lot of the 55% who said yes were more "who cares" votes than a true vote of acceptance) and 56% said that a player coming out would be selfish. 80% said a player that comes out would have their draft stock hurt. Sports culture is still pretty damn homophobic. We have a lot of work to be done to make things palatable for a gay/bi player to be out and comfortable.

    Posted by: Francis #1 | Apr 6, 2013 9:50:22 AM

  3. @mike

    In European stands its not uncommon for fans to deride a player for being black. Throwing bananas and other things from the stands at the player, etc.

    That racial aspect doesn't happen in American pro sports. So we will see.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Apr 6, 2013 9:55:52 AM

  4. Racial aspect can't be compared to sexuality here. In the NFL, a majority of players are not white, same in NBA. In MLB, 40% of players are non-white. In NHL most players are white but the majority are not American (Canadian or European). So racial/cultural integration is basically normal in major sports, and has been for quite some time.

    That can't be said for sexuality. The first couple out players are going to stick out like sore thumbs and given sports culture is still unfortunately quite homophobic, these players are almost assuredly going to be verbally abused and potentially physically harassed.

    Posted by: Francis #1 | Apr 6, 2013 10:14:01 AM

  5. In this interview, he says not all of these athletes are in the NFL, that they are in other sports as well. Is he talking about "the four"? Because everyone keeps talking about four football players, even the CNN title of this interview.

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Apr 6, 2013 10:26:11 AM

  6. "I have broad shoulders, I am willing to take the heat" I love this guy!

    Posted by: Mercedes | Apr 6, 2013 11:19:17 AM

  7. I think hanging out on a gay oriented blog can cloud our perception of how gay friendly the world is, and in this case, the world of sports. Ayanbadejo's kindness is not reflective of a predominant amount of players. He's said so himself. Just a few days ago, a seatle hawks football player not only suggested gay athletes should not come out, but went on to say that coming out is self fish, would completely make things awkward in the locker room, and being gay should be left at home. His name is Chris Clemons. Those are his words on his twitter. Another NFL player actually joined him and agreed. The team initially supported him and said too much big deal was being made about it, even though he was basically advocating for segregation of gay athletes.

    The Brendon Ayandajeos are the exception not the rule, otherwise his support, compassion and kindness wouldn't be viewed as a big deal.

    Posted by: Duration & Convexity | Apr 6, 2013 12:10:05 PM

  8. I've been lurking various big sports sites and blogs over this NFL story and am mortified at the level of homophobia I'm reading. It's not even casual homophobia, it's hundreds of comments on any given sport blog that say they will protest outside the stadium if a player comes out. That they'll never take their children to that team's games with an openly gay player. Many comments stating that straight players will be raped by gay athletes.

    I swear the homophobes have got more intense and louder recently

    Posted by: LEE | Apr 6, 2013 12:13:09 PM

  9. Like I said above, 56% of people agree with Chris Clemons, that a player that comes out would be selfish and doing it for attention. The only places that didn't agree were the traditional liberal regions, New York, California, Oregon, DC, a couple other Northeast states. So the fact of the matter is, homophobia/apathy is the norm and not acceptance in the sports world and Duration & Convexity is unfortunately right about what he's saying.

    Homophobes in general have gotten louder recently, but flagrant homophobia in sports is nothing new. We're just seeing how deep an issue it clearly is now that the issue of gay/bi players is on the forefront. There's a serious cultural issue and it's being addressed now, and a lot of work is necessary.

    Posted by: Francis #1 | Apr 6, 2013 12:35:25 PM

  10. Raped by gay players? What the?! If anyone was in danger of being violated it would be a gay player vs potentially several straight homophobic team mates or crazy fans.

    These people have lost touch with reality. Disturbing.

    So much respect for Brendon, though. And if anyone is still bitching about Anderson's GLAAD award: this is the kind of stuff he has had on AC360 every week for years now.

    Posted by: Jake | Apr 6, 2013 12:36:50 PM

  11. One last dying, violent roar before they are silent and realize the world is still here and life goes on.

    Posted by: Travis | Apr 6, 2013 1:01:29 PM

  12. It's the same thing, really, that we all felt before we came out - "wouldn't it be so much easier if everyone else did it, too?"

    of course. alas, some are called to be vanguards and some wait for others to lead. at the end of the day it's not just about thinking about what's best for "you" - but realizing and accepting that the only way to ensure that future generations don't have to go through what you're going through is to be the one to open the door(s).

    realizing that closet culture can end with YOU.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Apr 6, 2013 1:07:03 PM

  13. I agree with Lee. Reading comments on sports sites, written by people with their facebook pages attached to their comments, and seeing them literally just go OFF on gay people and many threaten basically the life of these four athletes not only turns my stomach, but makes me ashamed to be of the human race. Seriously, no wonder I prefer the company of my dogs.

    Some of you should go read what these bigots (of all backgrounds and ages) are saying. Lots of comments about gays and how we're known to rape straight people? and many comments about how these four players should be physically attacked so that they can'tlay anymore.

    Homophobia is REAL y'all. Don't let living in Weho or NYC and having a handful of loving friends fool you.

    These four athletes should have the unwavering support of all of us.

    Posted by: Ten Fold Five | Apr 6, 2013 1:15:06 PM

  14. A well-bred nice man. I'd be proud to be related to him.

    Posted by: DannyEastVillage | Apr 6, 2013 1:18:37 PM

  15. Brendon himself took to twitter last night saying how shocked he is over all the homophobic tweets he's receiving. He himself was taken a back by the level of homophobia, mostly by Ravens fans, he's been experiencing and the vocal resistance about an athlete coming out from fans.

    I can't believe we live in a time where people are INTENSELY passionate against an athlete they don't even know, being openly gay and not wanting to hide their same sex relationship. I sometimes seriously feel like we're reliving parts of the civil rights movement in our own small way. There's so many parellels to be made, not the least of which will be highlighted in the epic baseball film "42"

    Posted by: USC Trojans Fan | Apr 6, 2013 1:20:42 PM

  16. in a way, it's rather similar to the way non-military people freaked out over DADT being repealed: they dont' want to have to "respect" gay people. They dont' want their prejudices and bigotries to be blown apart.
    people who want to "support the troops", but not have that also mean that they're "supporting gays".
    people who dont' want to realize that the people they hate are playing the sport they love.

    it makes no intellectual sense whatsoever, which means it's an uphill battle. rationale and common sense are so bloody hard to impress on people whose daily lives seem to be devoid of either.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Apr 6, 2013 1:34:09 PM

  17. Alot of times I agree with you kiwi,but it's not all roses. Go to some podunk town and live for awhile. Come to the states and maybe move to some burg in GA. or Miss.

    Posted by: greenfuzz | Apr 6, 2013 2:15:27 PM

  18. Magic Johnson's son got HELL for coming out online. I'm black and it was disappointing to see the black community not support Magic for supporting EJ. On various blogs like Bossip and Madam Noir, people were saying Magic should choose God over his son and it's like, really now? TMZ asked the irony about it and how our black community was giving EJ and Magic hell and Magic was his totally awesome self saying he thinks we need to work on opening minds in our community. His sons so lucky to have him.

    But it's like, damn! a former athletes SON can't come out and get some respect. These sports people gonna be vicious and cruel to an out athlete and it's NOT right. SMH!

    Posted by: Real Talk | Apr 6, 2013 2:40:15 PM

  19. greenfuzz - the same "rules" apply even in Podunk-land. if every gay person, no matter where they lived, applied the mindset of "what can i do to change things" rather than "when is someone else going to change things for me?" it would move faster. the struggle is that people don't want to be The First(s), for reasons we all understand.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Apr 6, 2013 2:53:19 PM

  20. There isn't any truth to what Brendon said. He isn't talking to 4 NFL players, and they aren't coming out soon. But, it got him on TV...

    Posted by: Cyd | Apr 6, 2013 3:05:22 PM

  21. Get off the stage Anderson. Competing for "Miss Gay America"? You spent too many years in the closet You are good at looking serious while wondering what the guy is packing. According to some players this coming out will put a lot of pressure on these players --- but GLAAD will have an orgasm..

    Posted by: Garth | Apr 6, 2013 3:06:38 PM

  22. Well, if anything good comes of all the homophobic hatred you are seeing in the blogs, it should be that you all finally understand that the REAL issue in play is and has always been masculinity.....not religion, not "morality," not "choice", not anything. Just masculinity, plain and simple.

    So the only real solution will be to alter the male culture in such a way as to make homosexuality an accepted form of expression of masculinity.

    Attacking masculinity is and always will be totally futile.

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 6, 2013 3:12:11 PM

  23. @Garth: Bitter people like you devide and harm the LGBT community more than most homophobes could do. What is wrong with you? When did you come out to the whole world at the risk of harming your career and getting killed in some muslim or African country? What's your weekdays show where you produce dozens of segments on LGBT rights issues per year for a mainly straight audience that likes and respects you? Oh wait...

    Posted by: Jake | Apr 6, 2013 3:15:01 PM

  24. And before some troll comes in and asks me to give proof of who I am, it's not my job as a masculine gay man to be an example of gay male masculinity. It's up to other gay men to do it. Because there's no such thing as being the change you want to see, there is only telling everyone else that they're doing it wrong, while I sit at my computer in anonymity.

    I'm the most masculine man ever and if I ever came out I'd change the way people think about gay people but I don't have to do it because it's not about masculine men coming out it's about effeminate men being scared of masculine men like me who type angry diatribes on the internet.

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 6, 2013 3:18:50 PM

  25. Oh, sorry. I made a typo in my post. I mean to say attacking effeminacy is futile because from the view I have of the NY streets in the basement of my mother's house (she's upstairs, sleeping) all I can see are effeminate men walking around, holding hands and acting like gays. Out enjoying stereotypical things like "brunch".

    No matter how often I complain about them on the internet, those effeminates don't seem to be going away, so clearly my attacking effeminacy is not working.

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 6, 2013 3:21:53 PM

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