The Baltimore Ravens have, more than once this season, found themselves at the center of a controversy surrounding someone who has taken a knee (or knees) during the national anthem. First there was Colin Kaepernick, . Ryan Mallett, ahoy.
Now the Ravens are right back in the maw of things, thanks to Ray Lewis taking to both knees during the national anthem in London. There is a, and the Ravens have reportedly added extra security to keep an eye out on Lewis' statue.
Appearing on "Inside the NFL" on Tuesday, Lewis claimed he never was kneeling in protest at all, but instead taking to both his knees to pray during the playing of the "Star-Spangled Banner." Lewis was particularly miffed at his former teammate Shannon Sharpe, who criticized him for claiming Lewis said he would never protest on his knees but then promptly found his way to his knees.
"You hear people, you hear Shannon Sharpe going out there talking about I dropped on a knee, and this is about, oh I sat in the chair next to him and I said I would never do this. And I still didn't do it," Lewis said. "I'm watching young kids just confused. Everybody's just confused. What I'm going to do? If I'm going stand up, if I'm going to grab hands, if I'm going to interlock what am I gonna do? So I walked away, JB [James Brown], and I didn't drop on one knee and order the protest. Boom[er Esiason], I dropped on two knees so I can simply honor God in the midst of chaos.
Lewis continued saying he was pretty miffed about Sharpe not calling his phone and asking what his intention was, especially when "you saw my mouth moving" in prayer.
"He goes out and tells somebody why he's so disappointed in me. First of all, I'm 42 years old with six kids. I'm a grown man. So to be disappointed in me, it really sparked me. Now all of these people are going off his soundbites, how he's so shocked that I dropped on a knee to protest," Lewis continued. "Really? You got my phone number brother. A friend, a friend, a friend picks up the cell phone and says 'Bro what was your intention? What were you doing?' You saw my mouth moving ... praying. This makes me ask you a serious question -- I have First Amendment rights myself. We've got people standing, we got people bowing, we got people don't even want to respect the flag. If we want to make it right, make it two ways: you can only stand or pray."
And then the future Hall of Fame linebacker reiterated his stance that he would "never" take knees during the anthem, because he does "too much with the military" and "too much for cops."
"I never will agree with that. I do too much with the military. I do too much for cops. I do too much meeting with high-level officials trying to fix the problems in these neighborhoods," Lewis added.
Lewis would then talk about his personal struggles growing up, and dealing with a mother who was abused and how that relates to community service. You can see Lewis' impassioned speech about it here (or you could have just tuned into watch "Inside the NFL" on Tuesday; why are you not watching it every week at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesdays on Showtime?)
The discussion of protesting started with President Donald Trump calling for NFL playersMany NFL players -- and coaches and owners -- did not appreciate the statements and lots of teams came out uniformly against the comments .
Lewis was spotted being part of those demonstrations when he linked arms and took knees with multiple members of the Baltimore Ravens organization before their 9:30 a.m. ET game against the Jaguars in London (an ugly 44-7 loss).
He might very well have been simply praying and not kneeling, but it is difficult to differentiate it given what was happening in the moment. It appears fans are having a very hard time telling the difference.