Less than 24 hours after Showtime aired former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis’ revelation that the team was prepared to sign Colin Kaepernick until the free-agent quarterback’s girlfriend posted a critical tweet, coach John Harbaugh declined to get involved in the aftermath. He emphasized that his attention is on Sunday’s season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Asked prior to Wednesday afternoon’s practice in Owings Mills if Lewis’ comment was accurate, Harbaugh replied, “Oh, I’m not even exactly sure what all was said. But I can tell you this, I’m way past that. I haven’t even thought about that for weeks. Our focus is Cincinnati.”
A follow-up question probed whether Lewis’ assertion was a distraction for the Ravens.
“It’s exciting to start the season,” Harbaugh said. “We have two healthy quarterbacks and we’re ready to roll.”
Speaking on the cable network’s “Inside the NFL” program, Lewis said he and team owner Steve Bisciotti were discussing giving the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback an opportunity to return to the league.
“We were going to close the deal to sign him,” Lewis said. “… Steve Bisciotti said, ‘I want to hear Colin Kaeperkick speak to let me know that he wants to play football.’ … And it never happens because that picture comes up the next day. “
Lewis was referring to an Aug. 2 tweet by radio host Nessa Diab that compared Bisciotti and Lewis to a pair of “Django Unchained” characters in Leonardo DiCaprio’s cruel plantation owner and Samuel L. Jackson’s loyal house slave.
“Then, his girl [Colin Kaepernick’s girlfriend] goes out and put out this racist gesture and doesn’t know we are in the back office about to try to get this guy signed,” Lewis recalled. “Steve Bisciotti has said it himself, ‘How can you crucify Ray Lewis when Ray Lewis is the one calling for Colin Kaepernick?’ ”
Asked by NFL Network’s Judy Battista whether that tweet deterred the Ravens from signing Kaepernick, Lewis replied, “Then he’s flying him to Baltimore. I am sitting with all three of them and we are all having a conversation about bringing Colin Kaepernick in.”
The Ravens have disputed an ESPN report that Bisciotti resisted signing Kaepernick despite a preference from general manager Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh to do so.
Kaepernick, who said he knelt during the national anthem last season to swing the spotlight to racial injustice, has gained public support in recent weeks from NFL players like the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton. During the preseason, a number of players knelt, sat or demonstrated in some way during the national anthem.