Ray Lewis has added an interesting new twist to the ongoing question of why Colin Kaepernick isn’t playing for the Baltimore Ravens right now. In Lewis’s words, Kaepernick’s girlfriend is the problem.
Speaking on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL,” Lewis discussed conversations he and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti had regarding Kaepernick. “We were talking about giving this kid an opportunity to get back in the National Football League,” Lewis said. “I have been fighting for this kid behind the table like nobody has … I’ve never been against Colin Kaepernick. But I am against the way he’s done it.”
Bisciotti said at the time that he was seeking prayers from fans, asking for their guidance in whether to sign the quarterback who’s drawn far more notoriety for his stance against the national anthem than anything he ever did on a football field. Why an NFL owner would need to run a personnel decision by his fanbase is unclear, unless he was seeking justification for whatever direction he’d already wished to take. Given the fact that Kaepernick rouses emotions far beyond his skills, Bisciotti could find any justification he wished in order to sign, or avoid signing, Kaepernick.
And, as Lewis tells it, the Ravens found that justification courtesy of Kaepernick’s girlfriend, Nessa Diab. According to Lewis, the Ravens were juuuuuust about to sign Kaepernick, but:
“Then, his girl goes out and put out this racist gesture and doesn’t know we are in the back office about to try to get this guy signed,” Lewis said. “Steve Bisciotti has said it himself, ‘How can you crucify Ray Lewis when Ray Lewis is the one calling for Colin Kaepernick?’ ”
The “racist gesture” Lewis is referring to is apparently this tweet from Diab, which uses a still from the movie “Django Unchained” to paint Bisciotti and Lewis as master and slave:
Look, there’s no denying that’s a pretty unwise maneuver, calling a potential future employer a slaveowner, but actual NFL players, not their girlfriends, have made far worse social-media misfires and remain employed. Plus, this was apparently more of a shot at Lewis, who’s tried to paint himself as both a sympathetic ear for Kaepernick and a stern voice of reason, giving himself cover in every direction.
“The football field is our sanctuary,” Lewis said back in August, speaking openly to Kaepernick. “If you do nothing else, young man, get back on the football field and let your play speak for itself. And what you do off the field, don’t let too many people know, because they’re gonna judge you anyway. No matter what you do. No matter if it’s good or bad.”
The problem with that idea is that Kaepernick can’t get back on the football field if nobody signs him. And no one’s going to sign him if they’re just looking for reasons not to sign him. Not only that, “off the field” Kaepernick has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to charitable causes, which certainly is one off-field activity that stands up to whatever judgment “they” could mete out.
Sure, Kaepernick can simply tell his girlfriend to stop tweeting, but then another reason would arise to give teams justification to avoid signing him. That’s how these things work: the goalposts are always receding. The issue isn’t that teams don’t want Kaepernick; he’s not entitled to a job in the NFL. The issue is that teams and their apologists continue to trot out weak stories and distractions to avoid speaking the truth about why they don’t want him.
Meanwhile, the teams continue to sign quarterbacks who aren’t Kaepernick, and continue to make it harder to believe the “he’s not in the league because he can’t play football!” angle … unless, of course, you believe a quarterback who last threw a regular-season pass in 2011 is a better option than one who started just last season.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
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