Is it too much to ask that the focus of this Sunday be on football and not on “gay rights”? Will I be branded as a homophobic bigot for daring to make such a request? (I can answer that already: Yes!)
Last week, Fox News ran the headline, “Baltimore Raven linebacker [Brendon Ayanbadejo] uses Super Bowl spotlight to promote gay marriage,” reporting that, “Hours after Ayanbadejo’s team beat the New England Patriots on Sunday, paving their way to football’s biggest game, the three-time Pro Bowl special teams player wrote an email to gay marriage proponents asking how he could use his time in the limelight support the cause.”
In his email he asked, “Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti-bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?”
Earlier in 2012, his outspoken support of same-sex “marriage” brought a compassionate and carefully worded response from teammate Matt Birk, a six-time Pro Bowl center and “a Harvard-educated Catholic and the married father of six children.” In an editorial published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Birk wrote that “we all have family members and friends whom we love who have same-sex attraction,” but he gave clear reasons why marriage could only be the union of a man and a woman, also pointing out how “no-fault divorce, adultery, and the nonchalant attitude toward marriage by some have done great harm to this sacred institution.”
But that was October, 2012, and Birk was not planning to use the platform of the Super Bowl to campaign against redefining marriage. In contrast, Ayanbadejo stated that his “ultimate goal after the Super Bowl” was “To go on Ellen’s show, to be dancing with her, to bust a move with her.” (According to reports, the Ellen DeGeneres show has already reached out to him via Twitter to see about his appearing on her show next month.)
On Tuesday of this week, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver expressed his views on gay players in the NFL during a one-minute, recorded interview with comedian Artie Lange, saying, “I don’t do the gay guys, man. I don’t do that. Ain’t got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff.” And Culliver made clear that he would not welcome a gay teammate, explaining, “Nah. Can’t be ... in the locker room, nah. You’ve gotta come out 10 years later after that.” (Has anyone explained how or why the topic actually came up during the interview?)
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.