Some Baltimore Ravens fans want the Ray Lewis statue in from of M&T Bank Stadium removed, but it’s not necessarily for the reason you might think.
Eric Moniodis, a fan from Hydes, Md., started a petition on Change.org calling for the removal of Lewis’ statue after the former Ravens linebacker knelt during the national anthem before Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. The petition had over 50,000 signatures as of Thursday morning.
“I want the Ray Lewis statue at Ravens Stadium removed because of his refusal to stand during the National Anthem,” Moniodis wrote. “That song honors our country and our veterans who fought for it. To kneel during it is disrespectful, regardless of what you are protesting. I will not stand for that kind of disrespect towards our country, especially from a legend such as Ray Lewis. You stand for the National Anthem as a salute to those who can’t stand because they fought for this land.”
Lewis was (and is) a polarizing figure even before Week 3, as he was charged with murder in 2000 after two men were stabbed in an altercation between Lewis and his friends and another group of people at a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta. The charges were dropped in a plea deal when Lewis pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for initially telling authorities he wasn’t at the scene.
But apparently, for these Ravens fans, that’s not as bad as taking a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Lewis actually was on both knees, though, and told Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” that he was praying to “simply honor God in the midst of chaos” rather than protesting. But the petition still is up, and the Ravens responded by increasing security near the statue.
“There is additional security at the statue plaza at this time,” Maryland Stadium Authority spokesperson Rachelina Bonacci told the Baltimore Sun on Wednesday. “Certainly observers can notice the presence of uniformed security officers at M&T Bank Stadium, which includes the statue plaza. The additional officers and other security enhancements have been in place since Sunday afternoon.”
Thumbnail photo via Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY Sports Images