Take heart, everyone: the NFL is changing. Football players these days are more tolerant, more willing to embrace social progress. They are moving in the direction of the country as a whole. Such were the conclusions reached by CBS’s Jim Axelrod.

In a segment aired one day before the Super Bowl on CBS Saturday Morning, Axelrod proudly told his audience that players’ attitudes toward gay marriage are evolving. Players like the 49ers’ Chris Culliver, who recently said a gay teammate would not be welcome in his locker room, are a dying breed. What’s more -- and this is apparently newsworthy to CBS -- football players are actually capable of disagreeing civilly and rationally about gay marriage. [View video after the jump. MP3 audio here.]



CNN thinks the Super Bowl has become "a platform for the culture wars," but they are using that "platform" to support causes like gay marriage.

The morning after the Super Bowl, CNN's openly-gay anchor Don Lemon interviewed gay rights activist and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo and thanked him for his work. No guest from the other side was brought on.



Can the Super Bowl be a platform for same-sex marriage?

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo hopes so, and dreams of celebrating a victory in New Orleans two Sundays from now by dancing with Ellen Degeneres.



Openly gay and outspoken same-sex marriage advocate Thomas Roberts today devoted a segment of his MSNBC program to a pre-recorded interview with Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who is publicly supportive of a new Maryland law legalizing same-sex marriage. Yet nowhere in that interview did Roberts mention that it was a Democratic state delegate who tried to silence Ayanbadejo.

As I noted on September 10, the broadcast networks were silent about State Del. Emmett C. Burns's August 29 letter to Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti in which Burns called on Bisciotti to "inhibit such [political] expressions" from his players. While Roberts did note that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke out recently in favor of NFL players speaking their minds on political issues, the MSNBC anchor failed to mention that that was in response to a question at a press conference regarding Del. Burns's statement.



NFL commissioner Robert Goodell weighed in on a recent controversy involving a Maryland state legislator who sent a letter to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens that called upon him to silence linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who supports same-sex marriage. "I think in this day and age, people are going to speak up about what they think is important. They speak as individuals and I think that’s an important part of democracy," Goodell answered diplomatically.

Reporting on the story, Politico's Kevin Cirilli gave readers the background that State Delegate Emmett C. Burns, Jr. played in the controversy, but avoided mentioning Burns's party affiliation in both occasions when he referenced Burns, an African-American Democrat and Baptist minister:



Suppose there were a Republican state legislator in Georgia, who also happens to also be an ordained Baptist minister, who sent a letter to the owner of the Atlanta Falcons -- on official state legislature letterhead no less -- demanding he keep his players from speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage. The media firestorm would be predictable.

Well, a Democratic state legislator from Maryland did send such a letter in late August to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens, and while there has been media coverage since the story broke in the middle of last week, it's mostly been in print and online sources. A search of Nexis found no reporting by the broadcast network newscasts on this controversy. The New York Times sports page covered the controversy yesterday, but reporter Adam Himmelsbach omitted Del. Emmett C. Burns's  party affiliation.