For the past few days, it has been widely speculated that the Baltimore Ravens are looking to sign free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The 29 year old is currently without a team after opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers back in March.
Kaepernick, during his time without an NFL team to call his employer, has done a lot in terms of charity. Through his personal foundation he has donated over $1,000,000 to charity, he handed out free suits to people outside of a parole office, he visited hospitals and schools in Ghana, and encouraged people to donate to help the famine currently going on in Somalia.
Public opinion of Kaepernick is very divisive due to his national anthem protests from this past NFL season. Before every game, he decided to take a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality against minorities in the United States.
One place that knows the subject of his protests well is Baltimore City. Back in April of 2015, unrest broke out after the death of Freddie Gray while he was in police custody. We all remember the unforgettable pictures and videos from that time, including the Orioles having to play a game in front of an empty stadium.
However, once the dust settled; trials were had and investigations began. All six officer charged for the incident were either acquitted, had their charges dropped, or let go due to nolle prosequi. Back in August of 2016, the Department of Justice released their full report and investigation of the Baltimore City Police Department which found that the BCPD violates the 1st and 4th amendments of the constitution along with anti-discrimination laws. During a very heated election season around this time, you can imagine the range of responses following this news releasing.
So, with all of that, where does Kaepernick fit into this scenario? Well, this is a subject that he cares deeply about, whether or not you agree with this message, delivery of said message, or anything he stands for — it is something he cares about and that will seemingly not change unless change is made, in his eyes. I, personally, agree with Kaepernick’s message and see no problem with his protests of the national anthem. The first amendment of the Constitution protects him in doing so. You may or may not agree and that is okay, we all have different opinions.
Where somebody like Kaepernick can help today and in the near future is in community involvement amongst the citizens of the city where the Ravens play. You have a situation where the citizens do not trust the police, a department under tough scrutiny every single day and a big name athlete who can step in and possibly help mend ties among the community to have a more positive outlook for the city and its neighborhoods.
Now, I am not trying to pretend to fully know what Colin and his message is — he knows it so much better than I would. But, if you bring somebody like him in to help one of the cities’ sports teams with his background knowledge of social issues pertaining to said city, it is a win-win in my eyes.
The Ravens are well loved in the city of Baltimore and the Ravens return that love right back. You always see players going out to help on projects such as building houses, fixing up parks and playgrounds, shopping with underprivileged children and their families around the holidays, and so on. Kaepernick could be the perfect person to bring in to help with all of this. The Ravens paint themselves as a beacon of hope for the city of Baltimore and they have the chance to add somebody to their team that can help them with that.
Now, there is a big hurdle that needs to be gotten over and that is: Ray Lewis, for some reason. Lewis went on “Undisputed” to discuss this potential signing with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe. Lewis seemed to talk about it more from a football standpoint whenever Sharpe mentioned that Kaepernick never did anything illegal, comparing it to the Donte Stallworth signing back in 2010 following his DUI and manslaughter charges. They also touch on Steve Bisciotti, the Ravens owner, discussing this at a Ravens practice to fans where he also flirted with the idea of trying out Robert Griffin III.
It seems like Bisciotti does not fully understand where Kaepernick is coming from in his message, which is sad considering Bisciotti is not a dull person, in my opinion. However, when it comes to race and social issues, he seems to be very tone deaf to them. His most prominent example of this was the Ray Rice incident. He played it off like it was nothing and then threw the book at Rice once the video from the elevator came out, making it seem like he wanted to keep a hush over the situation and hoping the video did not come out. It was all handled very poorly and is a mark against the Ravens as an organization in my eyes. With the way he is handing this situation, it is very unprofessional and now just seems like some quick press attention to drive up interest for the upcoming season. It should be noted that this kind of attitude towards Kaepernick from NFL front offices is no surprise after it leaked that one compared him to Rae Carruth, a convicted conspirer of murder.
And, while I am on the subject, let me just say that I do not watch football as much as I used to and even I know that Colin Kaepernick is leagues ahead of RGIII when it comes to talent and skill at the position.
In the end, it is truly up to the Ravens whether they want to sign Colin Kaepernick or not. Personally, I think they should. They will get a lot of positive and negative reactions regardless if they sign him or not but even taking all of that out of the equation, the amount of good that Kaepernick can do for the team and the city as a whole is worth some bad press here and there.