The backlash against the #TakeAKnee movement is now hitting a retired NFL legend.
More than 30,000 people have signed a petition urging the removal of Ray Lewis’ statue from in front of M&T Bank Stadium, home of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.
Lewis knelt with other Ravens players during the playing of the National Anthem before the team’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in London. That didn’t sit well with some fans, despite his iconic status with the franchise. Lewis played all 17 of his NFL seasons with the Ravens and helped the team win two Super Bowls. He retired in 2012.
A Change.org petition soon popped up online urging Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to take down the bronze statue of Lewis, which was erected in 2014 and depicts him doing his signature pre-game dance.
Extra security has been hired to watch over the statue, CNN affiliate WJZ reports.
Other side angry too
Lewis told a Baltimore sports radio station he wasn’t dissing the flag or the anthem when he took a knee.
“I would never protest against my flag,” he told WJZ-FM. “It’s just me. I do too much for my country. I do too much for my city. I’ve invested my life into making people around me better, and the people less fortunate than me.”
Lewis said he got on his knees because he has a First Amendment right to protest “just like everybody else.”
But Lewis has also caught flak from those who support the football players’ protests. In August, Lewis posted a video to TMZ Sports in which he said ex-NFL QB Colin Kaepernick – who started the protests last year – shouldn’t use the football field as a venue to promote social change. So he’s being slammed as a hypocrite by some, including former teammate Shannon Sharpe, who blasted Lewis on his show on Fox Sports 1.
A spokesman for the Ravens told CNN he would check to see if the team had a response to the petition.