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Ravens fumble Kaepernick situation by telling only part of the story

Creative Commons via Flickr

I’m willing to give everyone in the Ravens’ organization the benefit of the doubt when it comes to Colin Kaepernick.

I really believe coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome when they said they had legitimate interest in signing the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback. And, unlike some cynics, I really do think that owner Steve Bisciotti gives a hoot about what fans think about having a man in black and purple who wouldn’t stand last year for the red, white and blue, if I might be so simplistic. 

And I’ll take it one step further: I’ll give Bisciotti, Newsome and Harbaugh credit for quite possibly being the only people in the NFL to utter anything resembling honesty regarding Kaepernick in the last year.

It’s apparently going to take a miracle for Kaepernick to land an NFL job mostly for reasons that have nothing to do with his ability to play.

With all that said: In years to come, when people examine how sports teams handle potentially explosive situations, they’ll certainly take an extended gander at how the Ravens bungled the last two weeks.

Look, no matter how you come down on the question of whether the team should have signed Kaepernick, you have to admit that the club handled things with all the touch of an oompah band playing Adele’s greatest hits. As a result, the Ravens have done something that no politician in Washington seems to be able to do, namely unite liberals and conservatives in their condemnation.

The right is bashing Bisciotti for considering bringing in a man who not only protested against perceived police brutality, but also uttered public support for former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Meanwhile, the left has taken aim at the Ravens for appearing to ignore the message of Freddie Gray in his hometown. It’s possible that nothing the Ravens could have done would have placated both sides, but by appearing to try to play nice with the conservatives and the liberals, the team has made a bad situation untenable.

This kerfluffle started when word emerged just as camp was beginning that there was a problem with Joe Flacco’s back. Though there’s an ongoing debate about Flacco’s tenure in Baltimore, no one would argue that Kaepernick is a better quarterback. If Joe Flacco is completely healthy, Colin Kaepernick’s name wouldn’t even come up here. And the Ravens’ brass should have said that from the beginning.

They should have told the average fan what most insiders know: that they were looking for a quarterback to come in and throw during training camp to give Flacco a rest until the regular season.

Kaepernick is looking to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He’s probably not in the top half of starters in the league, but he’s good enough to start in the NFL and a number of players know and have said so. However, Colin Kaepernick won’t start with the Ravens unless Flacco is seriously hurt. That’s the essential truth of all this.

It’s a shame that for all the goodwill they tried to compile, Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh couldn’t get to that earlier.

And that’s how I see it for this week. You can reach us via e-mail with your questions and comments at Sports at Large at gmail.com. And follow me on Twitter at Sports at Large. Until next week, for all of us here, I’m Milton Kent. Thanks for listening and enjoy the games.

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.
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