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Ravens social justice statement shows just how far they’ve come

From Steve Bisciotti down to the practice squad

NFL: Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Not too long ago, the Baltimore Ravens created a debacle, which resulted in a media nightmare. In 2017, the Ravens heavily considered signing Colin Kaepernick. They debated publicly; Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti asked for prayers regarding the decision. The Ravens even decided to ask fans to weigh in.

In hindsight, these matters were good in intention but showed a lack of decisiveness. Fast forward to 2020, the year of indecision, debate, indecision and lack of leadership. That is most certainly not the case in Baltimore. This offseason, the Baltimore Ravens traded for Calais Campbell, acquired Derek Wolfe, doubled up on linebackers, offensive lineman and wide receivers in the draft. They franchise tagged Matthew Judon, saw Marshal Yanda retire and retained nearly their entire coaching staff. They also dealt with a black sheep former all-pro (Earl Thomas), who left the Ravens in the dark regarding a domestic dispute in which he was a victim, missed meetings and didn’t subscribe to the culture in Baltimore. The Ravens swiftly cut Thomas following an altercation with safety-mate Chuck Clark over a blown coverage. They did so despite the possibility for a large sum of dead money on their books moving forward. This decisive offseason came full circle when the Ravens released one most profound and direct social statements that any NFL team has this century, if not ever.

The Ravens have come full circle, considering the difference in how the organization handled the 2017 Kaepernick situation. One of my favorite quotes from AMC’s television series— Breaking Bad— was delivered by a character named Mike Ehrmantraut. Ehmantraut orates, “I took a half measure, when I should’ve taken a full measure. No more half measures, Walter.”

The Ravens haven’t taken any half measures lately. They drafted the polarizing quarterback that teams were afraid to stick into their own system. They built a system around him instead. The result? Lamar Jackson becoming the second unanimous MVP in NFL history for efforts made on the field at 22 years old. They’ve won their division two years in a row following the swift decision to pull their battered former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco. Instead of pulling Jackson after a disastrous start to the 2019 AFC Wild Card matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers, they opted to stick with their full measure, keeping Jackson in the game, instead of taking a half measure, replacing Jackson with Flacco.

The Ravens stormed back in the fourth quarter and had the ball with 40 seconds and a chance to win the game, before ultimately losing. Strong leadership can often be confused with stubbornness looking through a nearsighted lens. The statement on social justice and police reform that included not just complaints, but resolutions. The Ravens decided to sit and have an honest conversation, one without reservation or judgement. Listing solutions as opposed to merely adding onto the list of society’s complaints is a way to improve the world which we share. The Ravens, in just a few short hours, listed solutions:

  • Arrest and charge the officers responsible for Breonna Taylor’s killing and the shooting of Jacob Blake.
  • Demand that Senator Mitch McConnell bring the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 to the Senate floor to vote.
  • Demand prison sentencing reform, while also encouraging citizens to act with respect and compliance when engaging with the police.

There were several other points of emphasis. Since the Ravens released their statement, several other teams have shown similar initiative to make statements offering real, logical solutions to problems. Regardless of whether one personally subscribes to these ideas or not, the Ravens deserve praise for their clear and concise recommendations which offer solutions. In other words, a worthwhile statement. The Ravens making a statement as one of, if not the face of Baltimore is paramount. The death of Freddie Gray sent shockwaves throughout not just Baltimore, but the entire United States. The Ravens, like many of us, weren’t quite able to pontificate how they wanted to react. How do we enact real change? Identifying a problem is important. The problems have been identified by many. Offering real change, real solutions. . . not so much. The Baltimore Ravens have shown exemplary leadership, unity, collective thought process and in a timely manner.

Some may say that the Ravens are “merely a sports team.” I contend that if more positions that are depended upon for leadership and problem solving used the same approach that the Ravens made, then maybe our society could make tangible improvement. In the words of the late Chadwick Boseman, “Vote.” Rest in Peace Chadwick, Wakanda forever.