Earlier last week Brendan Ayanbadejo, a linebacker for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, publicly reinforced his support for same-sex marriage, according to the New York Times.

The 36-year old NFL veteran has been praised by the lesbian and gay community, including Ellen DeGeneres who exchanged messages with him on Twitter.

Ayanbadejo, who has a 1-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter with his longtime girlfriend, originally advocated the legal union of homosexual couples back in 2009. Yet, his views reached a wider audience after a Maryland legislator urged the team's owner Steve Bisciotti to silence him.

Ayanbadejo initially spoke out as teammates in his own locker room accused the linebacker of being gay.  “If I was walking by, and they wanted to be immature and make comments, I’d keep walking,” said Ayanbadejo. “If they wanted to be real men and have conversations, I would have, but no one did.”

During the 2008 presidential race, Ayanbadejo said, he grew frustrated that Barack Obama did not publicly advocate same-sex marriage. As a result, in April 2009 he wrote a blog post published by The Huffington Post with the headline “Same Sex Marriages: What’s the Big Deal?”

It is admirable that Ayanbadejo, had the confidence to display his support for such a contentious issue, especially in the context of professional football, where such comments could ostracize him from even the friendly confines of his own locker room.
What may be even more surprising is that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who seemingly always has something to say, stated publicly that he supports the linebacker's statements.

At a a Politico lunch in Washington D.C. the commissioner was asked to comment regarding the rift between Ayanbadejo and Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr.

Although Goodell didn't appear to be  aware of the battle, he said that he supports players' First Amendment rights.

"I think in this day and age, people are going to speak up about what they think is important. They speak as individuals. I think that's an important part of our democracy," said Goodell. "I think you'll see people sharing their views if they have strong views."

Almost any other professional sports commissioner would have dodged this question, in an effort to avoid social issues, or even chastised Ayanbadejo for making the comments that he did.

However, Goodell is not your typical commissioner and thus his comments seem to be another small step for the homosexual community and their continued quest to have same-sex marriage legalized nationally.

What do you think?