QUEER VOICES
03/26/2013 02:39 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Brendon Ayanbadejo, Baltimore Ravens Linebacker, Believes Baseball Will Have First Openly Gay Player

The blogosphere is abuzz with news that a current NFL star is heavily considering coming out of the closet -- but one football player isn't so sure.

The Baltimore Ravens' Brendon Ayanbadejo, who has become a renowned advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in recent months, tells USA Today that he thinks a baseball player will come out sooner than a football or basketball star in the world of professional male sports.

"The religious roots are a lot deeper in basketball and football," he told the publication. "With that being said, I think baseball players are more open minded."

Ayanbadejo, who says he played baseball for 12 years when he was growing up, went on to note, "We do prayers before and after every game ... But I just felt that they were a bit more open-minded and not so tied to religion as much as football and basketball."

Still, he re-iterated some points he'd previously made about the possibility of an openly gay NFL star: "The locker room is changing, and you're starting to see teams take a stand against discrimination, whether it's the Niners [San Francisco 49ers] or the Baltimore Ravens."

The issue of gay players in professional sports has been a matter of heated debate in recent weeks, after San Francisco 49ers player Chris Culliver told Artie Lange that he would not welcome gay players in the NFL or on his team. "I don't do the gay guys, man," Culliver is quoted as saying. "I don't do that. No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do."

Furthermore, rampant speculation over Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's sexuality has prompted other professional athletes, including Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, to chime in.

In an interview with 92.3 The Ticket in Cleveland with Bull and Fox, Fujita said he "would argue that the overwhelming majority [of NFL players] would be fine with having a teammate who was gay," and that "it would not be an issue" to have an openly gay player in the locker room.

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