If Baltimore’s new slogan, “Birthplace of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,'” really meant something, then you might expect city residents to take special offense at 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s recent decision to sit during the national anthem to protest the treatment of African Americans. But Ravens coach John Harbaugh, for one, is defending him with gusto.
“We’re talking about a free country,” Harbaugh said at a press conference. “And I’m grateful for the right to express my displeasure. That’s what Colin chose to do, and it’s certainly his right to do it.”
Harbaugh praised Kaepernick — a player he knows because his brother Jim coached in San Francisco — for both his character and his success on the field. Harbaugh went on to quote Voltaire: “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend until death your right to say it.”
Harbaugh has a record of supporting his own players’ right to make political statements. In an interview with Bleacher Report in July, the coach recalled former Ravens special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo’s vocal advocacy for same-sex marriage, which rankled teammate Matt Birk. “I wasn’t particularly for gay marriage either,” Harbaugh said, “but I supported Brendon and his ability to say what he felt.”
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