Coach & Player Magazine Summer 2017 - Page 33

40-yard dash, recorded a 36-inch vertical jump, and put up 30 reps on the 225-pound bench press. He was blessed with size, strength and speed, but no NFL team would take a chance on him in the draft. The Atlanta Falcons signed Ayanbadejo in 1999 marking the beginning of a long and winding road to NFL stardom. A practice squad player for both the Falcons and Chicago Bears in 1999 and 2000, Ayanbadejo then headed north to the Canadian Football League for a few years. After a detour through the failed XFL and a season with the Amsterdam Admirals in the World League, Ayanbadejo slowly started making a name for himself in the NFL with stops in Miami and Chicago. Surrounded by amazing talent wherever he went, Ayanbadejo made the most of every opportunity and between 2005 and 2007 earned two trips to the Pro Bowl as a special teams player with the Chicago Bears. He played some at linebacker as well, even starting games for the Bears alongside perennial All- Pro Brian Urlacher. In 2008, Ayanbadejo would sign with Baltimore where he was surrounded by some of the best defensive talent the NFL has ever produced. He would contribute more on defense with the Ravens lining up with the likes of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs. Ayanbadejo earned another Pro Bowl berth in 2008 and culminated his career by winning a Super Bowl ring in his final game. Ayanbadejo had tremendous foresight understanding that his football career would not last forever. He enrolled in an MBA program during his last few years in the league and completed his Brendon Ayanbadejo giving back at the 2017 Angel City Games with Lisa Marie Varon and Chris Kluwe. Photo courtesy of Tiffany J Photography. master’s degree in 2013. Today, he is the proud owner of several Orangetheory Fitness centers in the Los Angeles area. In his spare time – Ayanbadejo is married and has two children – he continues something that he has been very passionate about his entire life. There are segments of the population that are underserved. Ayanbadejo works to make sure they are given every opportunity to succeed. From anti-bullying campaigns to the LGBTQ community and his current work with Angel City Sports, Ayanbadejo wants to make sure that everyone gets the spotlight they deserve. With the announcement of the 2024 and 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games coming this September, Ayanbadejo’s work with Angel City Sports will offer adaptive athletes a world stage. It’s an opportunity for underdogs to make a name for themselves…just like a young man from Santa Cruz did years ago. Brendon Ayanbadejo. Pro Bowler. Underdog. Super Bowl champion. Business Owner, but always the underdog. Coach & Player Magazine • Summer 2017 33