There weren’t many (if any) players as excited to visit the White House and be honored by President Barack Obama than former Ravens linebacker/special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo.
Ayanbadejo has found himself a part of many headlines for a player who played sparingly on a Super Bowl team. After being criticized by Maryland State Delegate Emmett C. Burns for supporting same-sex marriage, Ayanbadejo has used the attention to voice his stance for equality and may have more free time to spread his feelings as he has yet to be signed to the roster of an NFL team.
“Either way, I’m happy with it,” Ayanbadejo told Erik Brady of USA TODAY sports when addressing if his playing career may be over in the NFL. “If someone needs a linebacker, I’m good to go. And if not, well, then I’m ready to do the other things I haven’t had the time to do before. There is a lot of life left to be lived.”
Like many of his former teammates, Ayanbadjo openly expressed his excitement via social media to be invited to the White House. However, even though Ayanbadjo wasn’t mentioned by name during the ceremony like some of the other Ravens superstars, he received the most time with the President following the ceremony.
As the Ravens shook the President’s hand one by one with Seven Nation Army being played by the White House band, Ayanbadejo was singled out by Obama. Whereas players would simply shake hands with the President and walk off, President Obama stopped and spoke to Ayanbadejo for at least 30 to 45 seconds, likely commending him on his advocacy.
Wednesday’s event in the Nation’s Capital may have brought a year (and a career) full circle for Ayanbadejo given his accomplishments. Ayanbadejo broke into the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 1999 and after three Pro Bowls and five NFL teams later, he’ll receive his Super Bowl ring on Friday evening.
“I graduated college in ’99 and I’m going on 37,” he said. “For a guy in my field, I’ve done everything you can do in the NFL. There’s no need to cry for me.”
Ayanbadejo has received a lot of face time and seems poised to have a more impactful career off the NFL field than he did during his playing days. According to USA TODAY sports, he’ll receive his MBA from George Washington University next month and will start a chain of fitness studios in California.
Ayanbadejo appears ready for a new life outside of football, which is encouraging, especially when it’s so hard for most players to come to grips for what life has in store for them when they’re no longer paid to play a game they’ve dedicated most of their life to. Given his accomplishments on the field and the fact that he has continued his education during the off seasons, you can only commend Ayanbadejo for positioning himself for success, even though you may disagree with his views.
Photo: This very grainy cell phone photo was posted on Ayanbadejo’s Instagram page of his meeting with the President.