The Ravens are discussing signing free agent Colin Kaepernick, coach John Harbaugh said Thursday. This makes sense: Starter Joe Flacco is out for at least a week with a bad back. Ryan Mallett is no one's best-case backup plan. The coaching staff already has a familiarity with the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback.
But to read the Twitter mentions and Facebook comments on the Ravens' official accounts — something, it should be noted, the surgeon general strongly advises against — is to enter an alternate reality where one player's peaceful, if controversial, protest is tantamount to changing the team logo to, like, Tom Brady's smiling visage or a Mayflower truck.
Among the 140-character hot takes and indignant emoji are non-Ravens supporters pledging a new Baltimore fandom if the team picks up Kaepernick. More interesting are the self-identifying Ravens fans who have stood behind the team through Ray Lewis' legal problems and Ray Rice's legal problems, only to decide that Kaepernick's national-anthem kneeling is the real deal-breaker. (Something, by the way, he's said he will not do this year.)
When you're mad online, you tend to skip the first stage of grief, denial, and skip straight to the second and third. After the anger comes the bargaining. That's what I'm here to see: the threats and ultimatums and insistences that fans make to a team that is trying to not lose as many football games as it did last season.
Here's how you go from "Boo, Ravens!" to "I CAN NEVER LOVE YOU AGAIN" on social media.
1. You insist he forsake his right to self-expression.
And that American flag shirt had better be made by Baltimore-based Under Armour, or else!
2. You insist he forsake his right to protest.
Sources close to the situation say the Ravens are consulting with the descendants of Francis Scott Key on how best to proceed.
3. You threaten to end your fandom temporarily.
OK, but what about next year? Like, if they make the playoffs?
4. You threaten to end your fandom permanently.
As you can see, we've reached the logical endpoint here — wait, there's more!?!?
5. You threaten to root for another team entirely.
Who would've thought that the best way to bring together Ravens fans and Steelers fans would be to sign someone so controversial that they literally change favorite teams.