It has become a place for politics in the NFL. The sideline during the national anthem.
Sunday’s game will be the first since Ravens players joined the rest of the NFL last weekend in kneeling and linking arms during the Star Spangled Banner, protesting President Trump’s comments regarding his view that players should be fired if they don’t stand for the anthem. Will the unified presidential pushback continue prior to the game this weekend? Players said they’ve talked with each other about their plan but aren’t sharing any details.
“When that time comes just know that we always support each other in whatever we do,” said Ravens tight end Ben Watson.
“No one will turn our backs on each other,” said Ravens safety Eric Weddle. “Regardless of what we decide or what we talk about, it’s between us and we support each other.”
Joe Flacco offered the following message to Ravens fans who don’t agree with what players are doing:
“I have a relationship with everybody in that locker room and I know that nobody is trying to offend anybody and pick sides. Nobody is trying to pick sides,” said the Ravens quarterback. “We’re trying to stand by each other as brothers. Obviously there’s a big time African American influence in the NFL and those guys want to show support for their communities. And that doesn’t mean that they’re picking sides. It just means that they’re showing support for their communities just like any of us would.”
Following whatever happens pregame there is, of course, a game to play. It’s a pretty important one at that. The season’s first meeting against the rival Steelers.
“This is, I would say, the biggest rivalry in the NFL,” said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. “It’s definitely the most physical rivalry in the NFL.”
“We’ve built our team to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are coming to our house this week,” added Flacco. “We’ve got a good football team and we’ve got to continue to believe that.”
Both teams enter Sunday with the record of 2-1. And oh yeah, it'll be their first meeting since Pittsburgh knocked the Ravens out of playoff contention last Christmas Day. That infamous game which included the Antonio Brown touchdown reach that made the difference.
“We never have forgot that play, that game and we’ve made strides this offseason of building our team to get in that situation and win the game,” said Weddle.
Defensive tackle Brandon Williams was back at practice on Wednesday. But the Ravens say he didn’t participate because of his foot injury.