Baltimore Ravens team president Dick Cass blames empty seats at M&T Bank Stadium on the team’s ‘one-time protest’
The Baltimore Ravens sent a letter to season-ticket holders this week which was signed by team president Dick Cass blames the team’s diminished attendance on the players who protested police brutality against minorities by kneeling during the national anthem before the team’s September 24 game in London.
That game was the first of many protests that day immediately following President Donald Trump’s condemnation of the protests in which he referred to demonstrating players as ‘sons of b******’ during a speech in Alabama.
The Ravens players have not protested since.
‘The numbers [of no-shows] are higher, and it is noticeable,’ read the letter, which was obtained by ESPN. ‘There are a number of reasons for the no-shows, but surely the one-time protest in London has been a factor.’
While not everyone who paid actually sat through a game at M&T Stadium in Baltimore, the Ravens have sold 99.4 percent of their tickets this season and are averaging 70,602 fans a game.
That’s not far off last year’s mark, when the Ravens averaged 71,102 fans a game (100.1 percent capacity)
Baltimore Ravens players kneeling before a game in London on September 24
The Ravens sold 99.4 percent of their home tickets this season but many have failed to show
Several Ravens players have knelt in prayer before standing for the anthem. Regardless of their intent, several fans reportedly booed the praying players.
According to the letter, Cass and other Ravens staffers reached out to many concerned fans who contacted the team about the protests.
‘We have responded to your concerns about the protest by re-doubling the efforts of both the organization and our players to make the Baltimore area a better community,’ Cass wrote.
The Ravens are currently 8-6 and will reach the playoffs for the first time since 2014 if they can win their final two games at home against Indianapolis and Cincinnati.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick became the first NFL player to peacefully protest inequality and police brutality against minorities during the 2016 season by refusing to stand during the national anthem.
Kaepernick has remained unsigned since March, when he opted out of his contract – a pre-emptive move as he expected the 49ers to release him.
The Ravens have sold 99.4 percent of their tickets this season and are averaging 70,602 fans a game. In 2016 they were at 100.1 percent capacity averaging 71,102 fans a game
The Ravens players have protested only once this season, although some have knelt in prayer
Currently Kaepernick is suing the league, claiming all 32 owners have colluded to blacklist him in retaliation for the protests, which have continued this season despite significant public criticism.
In fact, Kaepernick’s girlfriend lashed out at the billionaire owner of the Baltimore Ravens as well as the team’s former star linebacker Ray Lewis in the wake of statements the two men made about her boyfriend in August.
Nessa Diab, the MTV host and Hot 97 DJ who has dated Kaepernick, 30, for the past two years, compared Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to a slave master and Lewis to one of his captives on Twitter after reports revealed they had hesitations about signing the football-playing free agent.
Diab, 36, did this by stacking an image of Lewis hugging Bisciotti after the 2012 Super Bowl on top of a remarkably similar one from the film ‘Django Unchained.’
Diab kept the caption simple, posting nothing but a bullseye emoji and Lewis’ Twitter handle.
Biscotti made no secret of the fact that he was grappling with what to do about Kaepernick, who he ultimately declined to sign.
Colin Kaepernick’s girlfriend Nessa Diab stacked an image of Lewis hugging Bisciotti after the 2012 Super Bowl (top) on top of a stile from ‘Django Unchained’ (bottom)
‘We’ve very sensitive to it and we’re monitoring it, and we’re still, as [general manager Ozzie Newsome] said, scrimmaging it. So pray for us,’ said Bisciotti alongside NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at a fan event that was held at M&T Bank Stadium in August.
Bisciotti then made it clear that his biggest issue was with Kaepernick refusing to stand during the national anthem.
‘Quantify hurting the brand,’ Biscotti said. ‘I know that we’re going to upset some people, and I know that we’re going to make people happy that we stood up for somebody that has the right to do what he did. Non-violent protesting is something that we have all embraced.’
‘I don’t like the way he did it. Personally, I kind of liked it a lot when he went from sitting to kneeling. I don’t know, I’m Catholic, we spend a lot of time kneeling.’
Kaepernick may be right about being blackballed by the NFL.
In six seasons, Kaepernick helped guide the 49ers to two NFC championship games and one Super Bowl while completing 59.8 percent of his passes and 72 touchdown passes. He also threw only 30 interceptions over that time, helping him to post a very respectable quarterback rating of 88.9.
Eli Harold (No. 58) and Colin Kaepernick (No. 7) of the San Francisco 49ers kneel on the sideline, during the anthem, prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 4, 2016
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and injured Green Bay Packers signal caller Aaron Rodgers have both stated they believe Kaepernick has the ability to continue starting in the NFL. Brady declined to say whether or not Kaepernick is being blackballed, but Rodgers told ESPN that the protests are likely the only reason he’s not in the NFL.
‘I think he should be on a roster right now,’ Rodgers said. ‘I think because of his protests, he’s not.’
‘He has paid the ultimate sacrifice in order to bring true everyday issues to light,’ Kaepernick’s former collegiate teammate at Nevada and current Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews wrote on Instagram.
Goodell will be deposed as part of Kaepernick’s collusion case against the football league.
The Commissioner, several owners and at least two NFL executives will have to turn over cellphone records and emails in relation to the case, a legal insider told ESPN.
According to the lawsuit, ‘[The owners] have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States.’
Colin Kaepernick (No. 7) is suing the league, claiming the 32 owners colluded against him in retaliation for the controversial protests over inequality and police brutality against minorities
Beyonce presented Colin Kaepernick with Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, and he said ‘with or without the NFL’s platform, I will continue to work for the people.’
Honoree Colin Kaepernick speaks onstage at ACLU SoCal Hosts Annual Bill of Rights Dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 3
Kaepernick made over $43 million during his NFL career and recently donated $900K of his $1 million pledge to organizations working within oppressed communities.
He also launched the ‘Know Your Rights Camp,’ which is a campaign Kaepernick funded to ‘raise awareness on higher education, self-empowerment, and instruction to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios,’ according to the organization’s website.
Recently Kaepernick spent Thanksgiving with Native Americans on Alcatraz Island, honoring those who occupied for the island for 19 months between 1969 and 1971 in an effort to compel the United States government to honor the Treaty of Fort Laramie.
Kaepernick is the youngest recipient of Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, which began in 2008.
Other recipients have included Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Los Angeles Lakers legend and HIV activist Ervin ‘Magic’ Johnson. Last year the honor was shared by former Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Cleveland Browns legend Jim Brown, and former Boston Celtics center and coach Bill Russell, all of whom have been active proponents of civil rights.
City Council Members, including Jumaane Williams (center right) and Melissa Mark-Viverto (center left) ‘take a knee’ on the steps of City Hall in reaction to President Donald Trump’s condemnation of NFL players who do the same on September 27, 2017 in New York City
A coalition of advocacy groups ‘take a knee’ outside of a hotel where the quarterly NFL league meetings were held on October 17, 2017 in Manhattan