The NFL has been dead center of a firestorm that developed over the weekend following statements made by President Donald Trump. Week 3 games became a flashpoint for players, coaches and some owners to show signs of solidarity in the wake of Trump’s comments where he referred to NFL players who protest inequality and police brutality during the national anthem as “sons of a bi*ches.”
One of the most discussed moments came before the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars kicked off their game in London. Former Raven and current NFL analyst Ray Lewis attended the game, and dropped down onto two knees while locking arms with a pair of Ravens players.
This move was shocking because Lewis has been extremely critical of Colin Kaepernick and protesting during the anthem in the past. There were memes suggesting Lewis thought he was kneeling to pray and got caught up in a moment. Seems as if those “jokes” weren’t too far off the mark.
While appearing on Showtime’s Inside the NFL, Lewis explained that he was on two knees instead of one, because he was praying.
Ray Lewis calls out Shannon Sharpe in regards to taking a knee. pic.twitter.com/NleFK1V1sv
— History of Sports (@BeforeFamePics) September 27, 2017
“I dropped on two knees, both knees, so I could simply honor God in the midst of chaos,” Lewis said.
After host James Brown asked for a more direct response, Lewis gave a deeper explanation.
“I have First Amendment rights myself,” Lewis said. “We’ve got people standing, we’ve got people bowing, we’ve got people don’t even wanna respect the flag. If we wanna make it right, make it two ways. You can only stand or pray.”
Lewis also said that he will never agree with those who protest during the anthem because of how much he does for the military and police.
He also responded to former teammate Shannon Sharpe, who on Monday’s episode of FS1’s Undisputed said he was disappointed in Lewis
“Ray Lewis sat in that chair right there and said that he could never kneel,” Sharpe said. “He could never not stand for the national anthem, because so many people died, and he had family members that fight for this country for the opportunity — and the flag means so much to him. And he kneeled. Not on one knee, on both knees. So what were you kneeling for? You kneeled, you showed solidarity, because of what President Trump said? And when Colin Kaepernick is trying to draw attention to the injustices going on, you deem that inappropriate?”
He 👏🏽 called 👏🏽 everybody 👏🏽 out. “I’m even disappointed in one of my best friends, Ray Lewis” pic.twitter.com/ne8FJClvp9
— Tanisha (@SportyByNature) September 25, 2017
“[Sharpe] goes out and tells someone 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 really sparked me,” Lewis said. “Now, all of these people are going off of his soundbites of how he’s so shocked that I dropped on a knee to protest. Really? You’ve got my phone number, brotha.”
This comes as a follow up to a heated conversation Ray and Shannon had on air last summer where they were on opposite sides of the issue.