TO SIGN HIM, OR NOT?

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - CINDY BOREN

The Bal­ti­more Ravens’ quar­ter­back sit­u­a­tion may be dire as train­ing camp opens, but, like so many other Na­tional Foot­ball League teams, the Ravens are not turn­ing to Colin Kaeper­nick.

At least owner Steve Bis­ciotti was open about the rea­sons. Pos­si­bly wrong, but open. Bis­ciotti and Ravens pres­i­dent Dick Cass ex­plained why the Ravens bol­stered their QB ros­ter with an in­door league player rather than a Su­per Bowl quar­ter­back while Joe Flacco is out nurs­ing a sore back. Their rea­sons in­clude Kaeper­nick’s na­tional an­them protest of po­lice bru­tal­ity. Their meth­ods in­volve sound­ing out Ray Lewis and ask­ing for prayers.

“We’ve very sen­si­tive to it and we’re mon­i­tor­ing it, and we’re still, as [gen­eral man­ager] Ozzie [New­some] said, ‘scrim­mag­ing it,’” Bis­ciotti said at a fan fo­rum on Sun­day. “So pray for us.”

Kaeper­nick be­came a na­tional light­ning rod when his protest be­gan a year ago. He com­pleted the sea­son with the San Francisco 49ers, then opted out of his con­tract in March and since then he has seen a num­ber of teams in need of a quar­ter­back kick the tires on other play­ers. As the con­tro­versy blos­somed into a ques­tion of whether NFL own­ers were black­balling him, John Mara of the New York Gi­ants ad­mit­ted that fans had threat­ened in let­ters to never come “to another Gi­ants game.”

The NFL Network re­ports the Ravens, like the Gi­ants, “have heard from nu­mer­ous fans re­gard­ing Kaeper­nick in the last cou­ple of days, many staunchly op­posed to his sign­ing.” Still, the Ravens are a team that has known con­tro­versy, with Lewis and Ray Rice on the ros­ter, so a fan asked Bis­ciotti if per­haps there is con­cern about the team’s brand.

“Quan­tify ‘hurt­ing the brand,’” Bis­ciotti said. “I know that we’re go­ing to up­set some peo­ple, and I know that we’re go­ing to make peo­ple happy that we stood up for some­body that has the right to do what he did. Non­vi­o­lent protest­ing is some­thing that we have all em­braced. I don’t like the way he did it. Per­son­ally, I kind of liked it a lot when he went from sit­ting to kneel­ing [as his protest]. I don’t know, I’m Catholic, we spend a lot of time kneel­ing.”

Cass said the team has been in touch with Kaeper­nick and has reached out to spon­sors and fans alike to gauge the pos­si­ble im­pact.

“Talk to your neigh­bours and your friends and your co-work­ers, be­cause I think you’ll get the same sense that I got, which is ev­ery time I hear some­thing neg­a­tive, I hear some­thing pos­i­tive, and some­times it shocks me who it’s com­ing from,” Bis­ciotti said.

BAY AREA NEWS GROUP FILE PHOTO

From left, 49ers’ Eli Harold, Colin Kaeper­nick and Eric Reid kneel dur­ing the an­them be­fore a game last Oc­to­ber.

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