Calais Campbell has been in the NFL for a long time.
A 2008 draft choice of the Arizona Cardinals, Campbell is now on his third NFL team just days before his 34th birthday. His few months as a Raven, however, have already been a journey.
In recent days, social justice issues have once again reached the forefront of professional sports after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake was shot seven times in the back by police.
The Ravens, as a result, had a long team meeting about what they wanted to accomplish. The end product was a detailed, comprehensive statement about their demands.
They called for the arrest and charge of police officers that shot Blake, as well as the police officers that killed Breonna Taylor a few months ago.
“We said we wanted to release a statement and we wanted to make it impactful,” Campbell said Saturday. “It was probably 30 guys, if not more, in there and a lot of guys talking, everybody talking through, ‘What can we do?’ It was just cool to see so many people speaking up and wanting to be heard. We wanted to stand out, we wanted to say something that was actually going to be impactful.”
The statement, which was drafted by players and assistant coaches on the Ravens, was widely praised.
“This is something that really meant a lot to us as a group, and me personally,” Campbell said. “Being one of the older guys in the locker room, and having the experiences that I have, I definitely tried to take a big role in this and really just making sure that everybody had a chance to be heard. Not just from the players, but as a unit, as a group, as the Baltimore Ravens.”
Campbell said there was a discussion about potential backlash that could come from such a strong statement, but frankly, that discussion didn’t last very long.
In recent years, since Colin Kaepernick began kneeling for the national anthem, many voices around the country have spoken out against players in their fight for racial equality. One of those voices, of course, was President Donald Trump.
“It didn’t last too long because so many guys are passionate about really making a difference,” he said. “I feel like God gave us this platform. I truly believe God gave me the ability to play football to inspire people and to use these gifts to make the world a better place. It’s my duty to really stand for what I believe in.”
Campbell added he feels the organization will stand together through this.
“I feel our voices are stronger when we’re on the field,” Campbell said. “Our voices are stronger if we can play well enough to be in that last game in February. That’s when our voice is strongest.”