© 2024 WYPR
WYPR 88.1 FM Baltimore WYPF 88.1 FM Frederick WYPO 106.9 FM Ocean City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kaepernick Passed Over Again by Ravens


The Ravens signed an accomplished African-American quarterback who has been out of football for an extended period to join their roster last week.

But if you thought that signal caller’s name was Colin Kaepernick, you don’t pass go, and you don’t collect $200.

Instead of bringing in Kaepernick, the man who led the San Francisco 49ers to within a whisper of beating the Ravens in Super Bowl 47, the Baltimore brain trust instead signed Robert Griffin III.

Griffin is a former Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor and had a terrific rookie season in Washington in 2012, leading the team to the division championship and a playoff berth.

From there, however, things went south for Griffin, who played poorly in 2014 and was benched and sat the entire 2015 season as a backup.

Griffin landed in Cleveland in 2016 and, let’s just say that things didn’t go so well. In fact, things went so badly that he sat out the entire 2017 season.

That may sound familiar, as Kaepernick had some career setbacks and sat out last year. But, as we all know, Kaepernick was out of football in 2017 for reasons beyond his control.

And it’s looking increasingly likely that 2018 won’t be much different. This year’s college draft is said to be rich in quality young quarterbacks, with as many as six of them possibly being selected in the first round.

That means there will be six fewer teams looking for a quarterback this summer and fall. That alone would make Kaepernick’s quest to get back into football challenging.

But when you add in what should be crystal clear to all, that Colin Kaepernick is being kept from renewing his football career for ideological, not athletic reasons, then it becomes increasingly likely that he may never play in the NFL again.

Just last week, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh were deposed as part of Kaepernick’s grievance against the NFL, alleging that owners colluded to keep him out.

It appeared for a time that Kaepernick’s calls for police reform and for heightened commitment to social justice issues were going to place NFL owners between the rock of Donald Trump’s pronouncements against protesting players and the hard place of the players’ desires to have their concerns addressed.

But a picture has emerged from last season that Commissioner Smilin’ Roger Goodell and a coterie of owners have effectively quashed legitimate dissent by buying silence or by making people like Kaepernick go away.

Eric Reid, a Pro Bowl safety and former Kaepernick teammate in San Francisco, knelt before the national anthem for two seasons, and has been unable to find a new team in this offseason.

The situation became so glaring that former Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith, who played with Reid with the 49ers suggested in a pair of tweets last week that Reid is being kept off rosters because of his political stances, despite his promise to discontinue kneeling.

Ravens fans will undoubtedly root for Robert Griffin III to succeed while he wears the purple and black. But they ought to wonder if Colin Kaepernick would have done better in those colors and if he should have gotten the chance.

And that’s how I see it for this week. 

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.