If prayers tell Ravens to pass on Colin Kaepernick, he still has shot at NFL return

Dan Wetzel
Columnist

Desperation will create clarity. His perceived value will increase enough to outweigh everything else. If a team is down a QB early in the season, and Kaepernick represents the best on the open market, then he’ll probably get signed. The paradigm will have changed in his favor.

Incapable of just making a football decision, or a business decision, or any kind of decisive decision (for or against), Steve Bisciotti, the owner of the Baltimore Ravens, told fans he was so flummoxed at the prospect of signing a backup quarterback that they ought to hit their knees and hope heavenly inspiration rains down.

“Pray for us,” Bisciotti said.

The Ravens are showing interest in Colin Kaepernick but with all things Kaepernick, things aren’t so easy. (Getty Images)

With that, the Colin Kaepernick situation hit a new level of bizarre.

An owner begging fans to let the organization know whom it should and shouldn’t sign is out of the norm enough. This is the NFL. It’s full of mostly good and gracious athletes, but plenty of felons and fools, louts and losers. When did a team ever really care? When did they ever beg for prayers before offering a contract?

Everyone in the league knows that if you win, fans will cheer. If you win, they’ll look the other way, always and forever. Do we need the public-relations trial balloon here? Just pick a side.

“Your opinions matter to us,” Bisciotti said according to the Baltimore Sun. “We’re very sensitive to it, and we’re monitoring it, and we’re trying to figure out what’s the right tact.”

Colin Kaepernick has committed no crimes. Colin Kaepernick has attempted to raise awareness and action against unjustified police brutality, which shouldn’t be much of a wedge issue.

Who the heck is favor of it? That’s who needs the prayers.

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Kaepernick took a high-profile stance against it, of course, refusing to stand for the national anthem last year, and that upset plenty of reasonably minded people. And there are also concerns that the vast majority of well-meaning and honest-serving police are under attacks of all kind on this issue. It’s politicized and everything that is politicized these days leads to lots of screaming and little listening.

Fair enough. This isn’t simple.

This is the NFL, though. This is Ray Lewis’ and Ray Rice’s franchise. If a normally organized organization has retreated to polling fans and begging for divine guidance and seeking cover, then two things are clear with Colin Kaepernick.

Right now, no one really wants him.

He may be better off waiting until someone really needs him.

The reality of the NFL – right or wrong – is that Kaepernick isn’t worth the trouble. His perceived negatives outweigh his perceived positives and, yes, that sure seems ridiculous in a league that gladly employs domestic abusers and DUI offenders and so on. It’s also the truth and is a condition of employment for pretty much everyone.

Kaepernick has tried to decrease the NFL’s perceived negatives of him. He has kept a low profile and has been professional during this offseason as he searched for work. He’s prepared to jump in at a moment’s notice. He has been willing to address questions head-on – as he did in direct conversations with the Ravens. He’s well on his way to donating $1 million to grassroots organizations. ESPN, citing sources close to Kap, said he would even stand for the anthem this season.

For the NFL, this hasn’t been enough. Again, that’s reality. You can hate the league for it or applaud, but that’s what’s happening right now.

The Ravens, with an injured starter in Joe Flacco and an interception machine in Ryan Mallett on their depth chart can’t make a decision (one way or the other) on Kaepernick without inviting fans and faith to get into the mix.

Kaepernick needs to stay ready because what can change and what will change are injuries. Baltimore is considering him only because Flacco got banged up, but he’s expected to be back, likely by the first preseason game.

Ray Lewis (R) reportedly gave advice on Colin Kaepernick to the Ravens. (Getty Images)

“We do want to win games, and I’m not sure right now that [Kaepernick] is going to help us do that,” Bisciotti said.

Eventually a starter is going down for a longer stretch. Desperation will create clarity. Kaepernick’s perceived value will increase enough to outweigh everything else. The NFL is a zero-sum game and for all the hand wringing over anthem protests, if a team is frantic enough (or a player is good enough) it’ll tolerate anything. An MVP-caliber quarterback could light up Old Glory on the 50-yard line and not miss a snap.

And if a team is down a QB early in the season, and Kaepernick represents the best on the open market – it won’t be close – then he’ll probably get signed. The paradigm will have changed in his favor.

It shouldn’t have to come to this. He is better than plenty of players slinging it in training camp. A lot of things that happen shouldn’t happen though. Nothing occurs in a vacuum. That’s life. Kaepernick is a smart guy and it sure seemed he understood all of this when he took a knee last year in San Francisco. He felt he had to do it anyway.

Support him or not, you should respect someone willing to risk so much to stay true to their personal beliefs.

The NFL doesn’t. Not until he becomes truly, truly essential. That’s how business works. That’s particularly how this business works.

Right now the Ravens are still too terrified to make a quick decision, a simple sign-him or don’t-sign-him. All of this over a backup QB who likely will hold a clipboard on Sundays.

So, yeah, if you’re inclined, do pray for the Ravens. If this is tying them in knots, it’s apparent they need some kind of help.

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