John Harbaugh says Eugene Monroe release was strictly about football

The Ravens released offensive lineman Eugene Monroe this week.
The Ravens released offensive lineman Eugene Monroe this week. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

In his last news conference of minicamp, just moments after his team began a six-week break until training camp, John Harbaugh said all he could to put the speculation to rest.

Asked about the team's release of left tackle Eugene Monroe on Wednesday, Harbaugh said the decision was football-related and had nothing to do with Monroe's advocacy of medical marijuana as a prescribed painkiller in the NFL.


"Football circumstances changed from the end of the season until now," Harbaugh said. "Football circumstances — 100 percent football circumstances. That's it. That's all it ever was. It's well-documented, the circumstances of the situation. It has no reflection on Eugene Monroe in any way."

Monroe, 29, started just 17 of 34 games in his two seasons with the Ravens. He signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract in 2014.

In his first tweet since the release, Monroe said Thursday he would continue his push for medical marijuana.

All offseason, Monroe has used various outlets, such as ESPN and The Players' Tribune to urge the NFL to dedicate research funding to medical marijuana and possible benefits on players' health. He said in an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday that those sentiments could have been a reason for his release.

"I can't say for sure whether or not my stance on medical cannabis was the reason the Ravens released me," he said. "However, as I've said in the past, they have distanced themselves from me and made it clear that they do not support my advocacy."

Harbaugh, though, reiterated that wasn't the case. He spoke highly of Monroe as a football player and a person and recalled fondly his memories of having the left tackle on the Ravens.

The Ravens release oft-injured offensive tackle Eugene Monroe just 26 months after signing him to a five-year, $37.5 million deal

"So you just gotta move past [the speculation] and know things are done for the right reasons and keep the relationships intact," he said. "And with Eugene, they're firmly intact. He's got a lot of friends here. He's well thought of here. He'll always be appreciated for what he did while he was here."

Harbaugh went back through the history of acceptance in the Ravens' organization, starting with Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell and fullback Jim Brown, continuing with owner Steve Bisciotti and former players Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden and Ed Reed and finally with Matt Birk and Brendon Ayanbadejo, who disagreed on the issue of same-sex marriage in 2012.

"We always allow people to be who they are, believe what they believe and stand up for what they believe in," Harbaugh said. "That doesn't have anything to do with any football decisions."


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