Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Next Brother Up

You may have read the stellar career statistics for our newest Baltimore Raven, Brendon Ayanbadejo: 124 special teams tackles; 4 forced fumbles; 2 fumble recoveries. You may also be aware that he was named to his second straight Pro Bowl in 2007 as a special teams ace. But what you probably haven’t heard is that Brendon was recently a guest security guard on The Jerry Springer Show; shaves his chest; teaches kids football on his day’s off; has better looking toes than his brother Obafemi; and can do a scary impersonation of Serena Williams.

I couldn’t make that stuff up and if you don’t believe me, there’s proof. That’s because Brendon and his big brother Femi - who also happened to be on the Ravens 2000 Super Bowl squad - star in their own reality TV show, airing right now at

The website is home to more than a dozen episodes showcasing the life and times of Brendon and Femi Ayanbadejo, brothers who have both played in the NFL. But don’t expect any Wired clips or highlight reels; the shows are strictly a window into their worlds off the field. The opening credits confirm it as they read, “These are the Adventures…Of Two Brothers in the NFL…Off the Field. Brother Up.”

The phrase ‘Brother Up’ sounds kind of cool if you don’t think about the grammar for too long, however, the show was originally called Bears Brothers, but things didn’t quite work out as the brothers planned. The show began in the Summer of 2007 when Femi arrived in Chicago with plans to join Brendon as a member of the Chicago Bears. But as revealed in the episode appropriately entitled, “The Cut”, Femi was released by the Bears before the duo could do any damage together on the field.

Fortunately, fans were treated to fresh footage of the Windy City siblings away from the game with plot lines equal parts Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm. For those without HBO, basically the brothers would find themselves in situations ranging from fashion shows to comparing each other’s feet. From Halloween parties to playing HORSE at the gym. Throughout it all, however, the cameras provided a unique insight into not only the life and times of the second Ayanbadejo to wear Baltimore black and purple; but even more telling, a candid portrayal of professional athletes in their personal time.

So what can Ravens fans learn about the newest member of the flock? Other than the chest shaving, Brendon does like to take care of himself, or as he says, “Maintain my sexy.” The maintenance program includes manicures, pedicures and the occasional botox treatment, but as seen in the episode, “Who’s the Man?”, he also feels right at home in the weight room. Especially when he’s competing against Femi. (Note: Brendon won the BrotherUp bench-press/pull-up/basketball triathlon.)

Of course there’s also plenty of VIP parties, diamond studded watches and designer sunglasses, but the most prominent personality traits on display for the public is Brendon’s pride. He takes pride in his Nigerian heritage; he takes pride in teaching the kids of Hamlin Park the game he loves; he takes pride in the journey he and his brother have taken from the projects to the pros; and he takes pride in the accomplishments that he has worked so hard to achieve.

In a rarely witnessed moment that athletes of all ages can relate to, the first episode in the series follows Brendon to a local convenient store. His shopping list includes Chapstick for his brother and a few copies of the Chicago Tribune. Okay, more than a few. That’s because the sports section featured a photo of B.A. that practically filled the front page. His reaction resembled the same smiles you would see on the faces of high school kids who find their stats in a box score or a highlight on the local news. And even after ten seasons of soul searching in football leagues around the globe, Brendon still beams when he sees his name in print. It’s affirmation of great achievement and perseverance. A reminder of all that he has endured to get to this point. But the best news for Baltimore fans – he’s not satisfied with a lead story in the Sunday paper. “When it’s all said and done,” says Ayanbadejo, “I’m trying to be the most notorious special teams player in the NFL.”

The adventure continues in the Charm City this season.

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