Harry Edwards: Let Kaepernick get back to work

Jason Reid, The Undefeated | 8/7/2017, 11:56 a.m.
Quarterback should be a model, Edwards says, not a martyr.
(right) Dr. Harry Edwards on the field as the San Francisco 49ers hold their training camp on July 28, 2008 in Santa Clara, California. Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

As the Baltimore Ravens decide whether they’ll break with the rest of the NFL and permit Colin Kaepernick to resume his career, Harry Edwards has continued to speak out on behalf of the activist-quarterback.

For Edwards, to rail against injustice is nothing new. Since the 1960s, Edwards has been active at the intersections of race, sports and politics. Through his creation of The Olympic Project for Human Rights, Edwards inspired the iconic Black Power salute displayed by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

Edwards, who has spent decades observing the NFL, has closely monitored Kaepernick’s quest to find another job. The former San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback has been passed over repeatedly by far less accomplished players, presumably because he stirred controversy last season by first sitting and then kneeling during the national anthem in an effort to draw attention to the oppression of black people and people of color.

Edwards, as told to Jason Reid, has a message for NFL decision-makers: Let Kaepernick work.

The way the Ravens and the NFL – and it is a league issue, not just a club issue – have handled what should be a straightforward football decision about whether to sign Kaepernick is … [taking too long]. The time already expended surpasses anything that would be required to objectively evaluate Kaep’s potential to contribute footballwise, and all the more so relative to other available QB talent. So they could only be assessing nonfootball concerns: political biases, media and public relations concerns and perceived potential “locker-room impact.”

If the hang-up is political, the Ravens should just state outright their political disposition and issues toward Kaepernick. If Ray Lewis’ presentations represent the club’s efforts toward that end, then I can only conclude that the Ravens are operating out of a perspective and disposition of total confusion, since there was little clarity in and no logic to what Ray has said, though I must concede that I am not completely certain of my conclusion in this regard since I have no interpretive ability, facility or dexterity with the linguistic currency of gibberish. If the issue is media management, negative publicity and public relations concerns, they should not be focusing on Kaep. They should be focused on their media and public information department, which, I believe, is excellent.

After all, they had little problem handling the travails and team trauma potential of Lewis returning from prison after being jailed in association with a double murder. They did an exceptional job managing player returns to the locker room after DUI vehicular manslaughter and domestic violence charges and more. I’m certain that the Ravens’ media relations staff would have no problem handling the “distraction potential” of Kaepernick, who broke no league regulation, who committed no crime. He merely had the audacity, courage and commitment to take a knee in order to send the message.

To propagate the phony issue and disposition that it is Kaepernick who is the issue, to push black sycophants out to front that message and perspective – however inarticulately – is not so much feckless as it is pathetic and an insult to the intelligence of informed or simply right-thinking people. I may be proved wrong, but I think that the Ravens – and the NFL – are better than that.