Ravens defensive lineman Chris Canty plans to deliver a strong message about preventing domestic violence to hundreds of middle school, high school, college and youth coaches.
Canty has partnered with the Verizon Foundation and A Call to Men for a four-hour seminar Tuesday at the Sheraton Inner Harbor to promote healthy relationships and respect for women by fostering a positive atmosphere in the locker room.
The intention is to give the coaches training for how to mentor their athletes about relationships with women in the program named, "A Call To Coaches: Your Voice Counts."
"The culture of football rewards physical aggression and violence, but that's not the way you should work out your emotional issues or personal issues with peers, the opposite sex or people at home," Canty said. "We want them to take out their emotions on the weights or conditioning, not in a negative way. You can show your emotions and be vulnerable and you're not being weak. We need to break that stigma.
"You can feel hurt and display your emotions. That's healthy. It's not healthy to hold that in when you have issues. When you do that, it can be dangerous and unhealthy."
While playing for the New York Giants, Canty first got involved with this cause through a program at Rutgers University. Since then, Canty has also participated in a seminar in Charlotte, N.C.
"I have a passion for working with young men in sports because I know the impact that coaches can have," said Canty, who signed a three-year, $8 million contract with the Ravens in March. "We have a mentoring program through my foundation and it hits home with these young men with the message coming from a football player of my stature. It hits home. I promote the same message every day in the locker room and am always available to give guidance."
Canty expressed his belief that pop culture can send the wrong message to young men, leading them to be disrespectful to women.
"Pop culture desensitizes kids," Canty said. "There's a lot of degrading material out there. Kids would be irate if someone treated their mother, sister or daughter that way. That kind of material is irresponsible, but it's also profitable. We try to turn the light switch on for them and show them what's real. It's awesome to interact with the coaches and young men."
The event, which includes CBS sportscaster James Brown and former Baltimore Colts defensive lineman Joe Ehrmann, will provide free resources for the coaches to continue the initiative.
Verizon Foundation program director Susan Sullivan noted that 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 7 men have been a victim of domestic violence.
"Chris has worked with us in the past and he's done a lot of work to educate the young men about domestic violence," Sullivan said in a phone interview. "He's very committed to this issue and others have pledged their support as athletes to respect women and girls and ensure that they're safe.
"We want young men to know it's wrong to hit a woman, but it's right as a man to express your feelings and show your emotions instead of holding in that aggressiveness. It's wrong for a coach or a player to say, 'He's playing like a girl.' We want to promote respect."