Ravens star Calais Campbell, first-round pick Patrick Queen and team president Dick Cass were among the 1,400 current and retired athletes, coaches, general managers and front-office members who signed a letter calling on legislators to pass a bill that would end qualified immunity for government officials, including law enforcement.
The letter was released Wednesday by the Players Coalition, a group founded in 2017 by former Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin and current New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins to address social justice and racial inequality. Among the other signatories are NFL stars like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Dak Prescott, current Ravens defensive tackle Justin Ellis and former Ravens standouts Ed Reed, Torrey Smith, Steve Smith Sr. and Kyle Juszczyk. Prominent NBA and Major League Baseball figures also signed it.
The letter calls on Congress to support a bill introduced last week by Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police. The Players Coalition letter argues that eliminating qualified immunity gives “ordinary citizens recourse when powerful public officials violate constitutional rights.”
Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine in federal law that insulates public officials, most notably police officers, from civil liability unless their action clearly violates a constitutional right, as determined by a prior identical case.
“It is time for Congress to eliminate qualified immunity and it can do so by passing the Amash-Pressley Bill,” the Players Coalition wrote. “When police officers kill an unarmed man, when they beat a woman, or when they shoot a child, the people of this country must have a way to hold them accountable in a court of law. And officers must know that if they act in such a manner, there will be repercussions.”
Baltimore Ravens Insider
According to ESPN, the Players Coalition has invited all 32 NFL teams to a virtual meeting Wednesday that will focus on how the league can pursue various initiatives aimed at promoting social justice and helping black communities.
While only three current Ravens and Cass, who is white, signed the Players Coalition letter, other players have spoken out about the police brutality and systemic racism that have spurred nationwide protests. The Ravens and owner Steve Bisciotti’s foundation also recently committed to donate $1 million to support social justice reform in Baltimore.
The nominees for the Pro Football Writers of America’s annual Off-Field Awards were announced Tuesday, with former Ravens executive vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne and current tight ends coach Bobby Engram among the individuals up for consideration.
Byrne, who retired in May after spending nearly 40 years with Art Modell’s Cleveland Browns franchise and then the Ravens, is a nominee for the Jack Horrigan Award, given to a league or club official for their qualities and professional style in helping the pro football writers do their job.
The Ravens are also one of five nominees for the Pete Rozelle Award, which honors a public relations staff that consistently strives for excellence in its dealings and relationships with the media.
Engram, who was a wide receiver in the NFL for 14 years and has been a member of the Ravens’ staff since 2014, is a nominee for the George Halas Award, awarded to an NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed. Engram’s daughter, Bobbi, died in 2018 at the age of 20 from complications of sickle cell disease. He has since helped institute the Bobbi Engram Foundation to fund sickle cell research.
Balloting is underway through June 19 and the final results will be announced beginning June 22.