TO SIGN HIM, OR NOT?
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.
From left, 49ers’ Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid kneel during the anthem before a game last October.