The Ravens Want Fans Opinions on Signing Kaepernick

01 Aug, 2017

The Baltimore Ravens are flirting with the future of sports decision-making, and it’s both populist and grand.

No longer must front-office executives take the weight of the world on their shoulders when deciding whether to trade prospects for established talent at the deadline, or whether to value consistency over potential in the draft, or whether to sign a somewhat controversial quarterback during training camp. Why should the hard stuff be left up to coaches, GMs and owners, when they can just crowdsource those headaches, and let the fans and sponsors decide? They don’t even need to pay for scientific public-opinion polling. A good Twitter poll should do the trick.

The Ravens, as you know, seem pretty well set at quarterback this season, between an injured Joe Flacco and a perfectly healthy Ryan Mallett, who managed to hit the under on “5.5 interceptions” during a recent practice session by throwing just five picks. And yet the troubling suggestion has been raised that the Ravens might get into the Colin Kaepernick business.

It’s a complicated call. Mallett has tossed more interceptions than touchdowns in his brief and itinerant career, while Kaepernick has thrown more than twice as many touchdowns as interceptions. Mallett has eight regular season starts — which is two more than Kaepernick has (playoff) starts. Mallett has thrown at least one touchdown in six games. Kaepernick has thrown at least two touchdowns in 22 games. Mallett has a rushing touchdown. Kaepernick does, too, times 13.

Anyhow, I wouldn’t trust myself to make an NFL front-office decision of this magnitude, or even pick between two water boys, really. But I would trust Matt from Pasadena. This is a cutthroat, win-or-be-fired, bottom-line business, which is why no major decision should be made withoutMatt from Pasadena’s guidance. There’s an untapped efficiency opportunity in constructing your team via sports-radio callers from Dundalk, and the Ravens have jammed phone lines. Rack ’em. Rack all of ’em.

“The Ravens have gauged public opinion on signing Kaepernick, and they’ve found a very split response,” the team’s website reported this week.

“All I would ask is to just talk to your neighbors and your friends and your co-workers, because I think you’ll just get the same sense that I got, that wow every time I hear something negative I hear something positive, and sometimes it shocks me who it’s coming from,” owner Steve Bisciotti told a group of fans, when asked whether signing Kaepernick could hurt the team’s brand. “So I hope we do what is best for the team and balance that with what’s best for our fans. And your opinions matter to us.”

Now, it’s possible that the team is just paying lip service to these fan opinions, while actually relying on its football people to make football decisions. It’s possible the team won’t run its final cuts past Matt in Pasadena before setting its 53-man roster. It’s possible we haven’t yet reached our free-agency-by-plebiscite future.

But imagine the possibilities of a world in which big sports decisions are crowdsourced, as the Ravens are apparently doing with their quarterback room.

“We’re trying to figure out what’s the right tack,” Bisciotti told the fans. “And so pray for us.”

Washington Post

Image Brianhwaters twitter

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