Ravens LB Ayanbadejo approves of gay marriage vote

Ravens LB Ayanbadejo approves of gay marriage vote

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo was delighted to learn that the majority of Maryland voters shared his opinion on same sex marriage.

``I'm so stoked. It's like I woke up and it's Christmas,'' Ayanbadejo said Wednesday, one day after gay marriage in the state was approved at the ballot box by a narrow margin.

Baltimore's locker room reflects society, so not all of Ayanbadejo's teammates shared his enthusiasm about the historic decision.

``When it's all said and done, there are a lot of guys on this team that stand firmly behind what the Bible says - that a man marries a woman and a woman marries a man,'' safety Bernard Pollard said.

The strong, opposite viewpoints have not divided the Ravens' locker room. While players on both sides are passionate about their stances, they haven't let their differences get in the way of the team's unified quest for a playoff berth.

The Ravens (6-2) host Oakland (3-5) on Sunday.

Before Tuesday, gays and lesbians had been granted the right to marry by courts and state legislatures, but proponents of gay marriage had been defeated in voting by more than 30 states.

The Ravens have continued their business-like approach to football during the political discourse, but their convictions about the issue run deep within the testosterone-filled environment.

Ayanbadejo spoke out in favor of same-sex marriage on several occasions prior to Maryland's vote on Question 6.

``It's something I've been passionate about a long time,'' he said. ``Even though it doesn't affect me directly, it affects a lot of my friends. It affects my family. It affects Ravens fans. It affects Marylanders. I've worked very hard on it; I'm especially proud of the Marylanders who went out and voted and made a difference.''

Whether his teammates like it or not.

``The majority of the people got it right,'' Ayanbadejo said. ``Who cares what they think in the locker room? Who cares what they think anywhere? The people decided. People have to take heed and listen to what people are crying for and what they are wanting. The majority of people voted it in.

``It's a done deal and we did the right thing. It took too long. It shouldn't have been up to other people to decide other people's fate as far as who they can marry. But we're progressing, so I'm happy about that.''

As Ayanbadejo spoke in front of his cubicle, several players made noise behind him to show their displeasure.

Pollard was not one of them. Nor was Ravens center Matt Birk, who wrote an editorial last month in The (Baltimore) Sun voicing his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Birk was not available for comment Wednesday, but Pollard was happy to give his own take on the issue.

``It shows you that people in high power are changing what was set for a very long time,'' he said. ``These are the principles, man, this is what life is about. But when it's all said and done, they came in and changed it.''

Pollard was not bitter. Just disappointed.

``I'm not going to treat anybody any different. I think anybody who knows me knows that,'' he said. ``I'm going to love you just like I did. Whatever lifestyle you want to live, you're entitled to that. I think you are. It's just that, for us, we've got to continue to live life and continue to pray.''

AFC North: Will Steelers RB Bell stay healthy this season?

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AFC North: Will Steelers RB Bell stay healthy this season?

Here’s a key AFC North question. Will Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell stay healthy?

Bell is without question one of the league’s most talented backs. However, knee injuries have ended his season the past two years, leaving the Steelers without him when they were eliminated from the playoffs.

De’Angelo Williams did a superb job in place of Bell last season, rushing for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns. But Bell is a better pass receiver and more elusive – capable of turning almost any play in to a big play. In 2014, Bell had over 2,000 yards combined from scrimmage – 1,316 yards rushing and 854 yards receiving.

Bell doesn’t want to be labeled as injury-prone, yet some people already view him that way. But at Steelers OTA’s, Bell showed up looking healthy, while vowing not to run cautiously next season.

“I’m going to be physical,” Bell told ESPN.com. “I’m out here with no knee brace or anything, didn’t wear a sleeve or anything. I’ve been training my knee for everything I’m about to go through, so when September gets here I’ll be even better than I am now. That’s even crazy to think about. But I’m excited.”

When Bell has been healthy, putting up numbers has not been a problem. The more Bell plays next season, the better the Steelers’ chances of making the playoffs.

Urschel spends his spring getting straight A's at MIT

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Urschel spends his spring getting straight A's at MIT

If the NFL had an All-Academic team, Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel would be on it.

In February, Urschel began the Ph.D program in mathematics at MIT. How’s he doing so far? Here’s a hint. When it comes to grades, Urschel is only familiar with one letter in the alphabet.

“My first semester in school in nearly three years,” Urschel wroter on Twitter. “Four PhD classes at MIT. Four A’s. The streak continues!!!”

Entering his third season with the Ravens, Urschel has found a way to juggle his love for football with his love for mathematics. He posted an interesting article on The Players Tribune this week in which he described training with the football team at MIT this spring.

“I probably had about 50 or 60 pounds on the biggest guy on MIT’s O-line,” Urschel wrote. “But when we ran, they put me to shame. They could outsprint me.

“What I found is that the team at MIT is no joke. It is a football team – in some ways, more of a football team than any I’d ever seen. These guys love football. They are playing the game because they want to. No one is making them come to practice, no one is checking up on them. They know as well as anyone about head injuries; they know that football is dangerous; they know the feeling of exhaustion and pain. They still play. They don’t do it for money, and they don’t do it for status.

“We talk about dedication and passion in the pros, but the truth is, sometimes the game feels like a job. You start to think of the paycheck. You feel the grind. But training with the team at MIT, I started thinking about what had drawn me to football as a kid. It felt like a game again. I had thought I might have something to teach the team. I never imagined they’d have so much to teach me.”

That guy in the Dos Equis beer commercials might be the most interesting man in the world. But Urschel has built a strong resume as the most interesting player on the Ravens.

RELATED: NFL ANNOUNCES LOCATIONS FOR 2019, 2020 AND 2021 SUPER BOWLS

NFL announces locations for 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls

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NFL announces locations for 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls

The NFL has decided on the locations of the 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls. The vote took place at the NFL owners meetings in Charlotte on Tuesday. 

Atlanta will host Super Bowl LIII in 2019, while South Florida (Miami) will get the event in 2020 and Los Angeles will host in 2021. 

The cities chosen each included new or upgraded stadiums in their pitches to the league. 

Atlanta will be home to the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, opening in 2017. 

Miami's stadium (Sun Life Stadium from 2010-2016) is undergoing a $400 million renovation that will include an open-air canopy to provide shade for 92 percent of seats, according to Sports Illustrated. Construction should be complete before the 2017 season. 

And Los Angeles will boast a new 300-acre, campus-style stadium housing the Rams and potentially a second team. The $2.6 billion project will be the most expensive sports arena in the world, reports CNN, and should be ready before the 2019 NFL season.