When news broke that the Baltimore Ravens were considering bringing in quarterback and black activist Colin Kaepernick to back up current quarterback Joe Flacco, fans on both side of the controversy took up arms.
Those who opposed Kaepernick’s kneeling protest against the killing of unarmed black men, women and children threatened to boycott games. Now, according to Color of Change, the nation’s largest online civil rights organization, the Ravens headquarters are refusing to take comments in support of Kaepernick.
“The Ravens’ egregious silencing of this outpouring of support for Kaepernick comes after the team’s executives publicly stated that they wanted to hear from fans as they made their decision,” Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, which launched a website to mobilize calls in support of Kaepernick to Ravens headquarters, said in a statement.
The civil rights group also has ads on the front page of the Baltimore Sun’s website calling on the Ravens to sign Kaepernick. According to the group, “staff at Baltimore Ravens Headquarters are now hanging up or refusing to take comments in support of Colin Kaepernick as Ravens fans, Black activists, and Kaepernick supporters inundate the team with hundreds of phone calls asking the Ravens” to sign the quarterback, the statement read.
Kaepernick began his protest during the 2016 season and decided to test the free-agent market after spending last season with the San Francisco 49ers. As the NFL season is set to begin, Kaepernick has seen lesser quarterbacks taken while he’s still without a team.
Color of Change noted in its statement that Kaepernick “ended the 2016 NFL season with 2,241 passing yards, sixteen passing touchdowns, four interceptions, added 468 rushing yards as well as two rushing touchdowns.”
Kaepernick’s popularity hasn’t faded, and he’s the only NFL player whose jersey is still in the top 50 who doesn’t have a team.
“The refusal of NFL owners to sign Kaepernick is not about football—it’s about fear of Black peoples’ free speech,” Robinson said in the statement, which continued:
It is deeply disturbing that team owners in the NFL—which has no Black owners even as nearly seventy percent of league’s players are Black—won’t sign a star who engages in peaceful protest to support his community. Colin Kaepernick speaks for so many of us, and silencing him sends a message to every football viewer that the concerns of Black communities are not valid. Signing Kaepernick should be a no brainer for the Ravens. As the home team of city that has been rife with racial tension for years, the Ravens should welcome the opportunity to send a message that they, too, want to see our country get to a better place. Our country was founded on protest and has been made better by oppressed communities continuing to protest and fight to open institutions that shut us out, including professional sports leagues. At time when pro football teams seem to have no problem signing domestic abusers, it is the NFL’s actions that require scrutiny—not Kaepernick’s heartfelt commitment to justice for Black communities.
The Ravens have not responded to requests for comment.