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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.''

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Who to root for in Week 11 if you are a Baltimore Ravens fan

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Who to root for in Week 11 if you are a Baltimore Ravens fan

The Baltimore Ravens are reeling, having lost three straight games as they head into today’s pivotal AFC North matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. At 4-5, the Ravens find themselves on the outside looking in in the current AFC Playoff Picture. A win at home today would not only end the team’s losing streak, but it would put them in prime position to make a postseason push in the final six games of the season. 

If you're a Ravens fan, you’ll be locked in to see how rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson does in his first start. At the same time, you’ll be keeping a watchful eye on the scoreboard to see how the rest of the AFC teams vying for the playoffs are faring. 

The Ravens have lost 8 of the last 10 games to the Bengals, including 3 of the past 4 at M&T Bank Stadium. And while it’s a daunting task to ask Jackson to make a successful first start against a division foe in the middle of a playoff race, it just may be the spark the Ravens need to get back on track. 

As the Ravens look to get back to .500, below is a breakdown of the key matchups for fans to watch and who you should be rooting for. 

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts 
Sunday, Nov. 18 at 1:00 p.m

This is a tough one. The Ravens find themselves sandwiched between the Titans and the Colts in the current playoff picture. The Titans continued to show their improvement as team under head coach Mike Vrabel in last week’s win over the New England Patriots. Having won two in a row, the Titans are in a race of their own in the AFC South with the Houston Texans. After a slow start, the Colts are trending upward also, winners of three straight. But the Ravens still hold the tiebreaker over the Colts, and with a tough schedule and uncertainty at quarterback, would unlikely be able to overcome two games to catch and pass Tennessee. Root for the Colts. 


Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, Nov. 18 at 1:00 p.m

This a matchup of two teams heading in opposite directions. The Steelers have found their groove in the last five games, while the Jaguars have dropped five in a row. Mathematically the Ravens are still in the hunt to catch Pittsburgh atop the division. That and the chance to see your rival go down makes this an easy choice. Root for the Jaguars. 

Oakland Raiders at Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, Nov. 18 at 4:05 p.m.

The AFC’s worst team record-wise takes on a two-win Cardinals team. Root for the Cardinals.  

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Lamar Jackson earns first NFL start for Ravens as Joe Flacco's sidelined with injury

Lamar Jackson earns first NFL start for Ravens as Joe Flacco's sidelined with injury

It's the moment Lamar Jackson has been waiting for since the Baltimore Ravens drafted him in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft; his first NFL start.

The team announced that Jackson will be starting under center against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in Week 11 after Joe Flacco sustained a hip injury in the Ravens' Week 9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Jackson is 7-of-12 for 87 passing yards and one touchdown adding 139 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown in the Ravens' first nine games.

But how and when the team utilized him has lacked consistency, which has people concerned with the possibility of the rookie starting. On top of that, the Sunday matchup against Cincinnati is the Ravens' biggest game of the season and puts even more pressure on Jackson.

Sitting at 4-5 and third in the AFC North, a fourth-straight loss would all but eliminate Baltimore from playoff contention.

Jackson's teammates and coaches, however, have nothing but confidence in their quarterback.

“The young man certainly has progressed," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said about Jackson Thursday. "Smart, talented, tough – he has some great, great qualities, and [quarterbacks coach] James Urban and he have really worked hard in his progression. And, he’s done a lot of things for us up to this date.”

"He certainly has inner confidence, Mornhinweg added. "There’s no question about that, yet, very humble. So, it’s a good mix there."

Jackson missed Thursday's practice with an illness, but told the media Wednesday he has been preparing for his possible Week 11 start as if it was any other week.

When asked how he would feel if he did get the nod Sunday, Jackson said he would have butterflies at first but that once the ball was snapped, "it's on."

The faster style of NFL play compared to that of college football was something the quarterback admittedly struggled with in the preseason. But with nine games behind him, Jackson feels he's made progress.

"Calling the plays," Jackson said on the area he's made the biggest strides in. "Before I'd have to ask coach a hundred times, 'say it again, say it again,' but now he says it one time to me. Don't get me wrong, sometimes if [the call] is long or whatever I have to ask [coach to] say it again, but other than that I'm getting better with that."

Robert Griffin III, who was also in talks of starting vs. the Bengals, has taken pride in mentoring his fellow Heisman Trophy winner.

“Lamar is like a sponge." Griffin III said Wednesday. "He’s soaking up everything he possibly can, information-wise, from myself, Joe [Flacco], the offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach – coach [James] Urban. He’s been doing a great job."

The 21-year-old is the only first-round quarterback out of the 2018 NFL Draft that has yet to start this season. A strong showing and this could be the start of the Jackson era in Baltimore. 

Prior to Sunday, Flacco had missed just six games in 11 years, starting the last 41.

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