Former All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis claims the Baltimore Ravens were close to signing Colin Kaepernick before the free agent quarterback's girlfriend posted a "racist" tweet featuring Lewis and team owner Steve Bisciotti.
Lewis made his comments on Showtime's "Inside the NFL" on Tuesday night. He is a new regular analyst on the weekly program.
"We were going to close the deal to sign him," Lewis said of his former team. "Steve Bisciotti said, 'I want to hear Colin Kaepernick speak to let me know that he wants to play football.' And it never happens because that picture comes up the next day."
Lewis described the Aug. 2 tweet by Nessa Diab as "racist" that compared a picture of Lewis hugging Bisciotti to a scene from "Django Unchained." In the movie scene, actor Samuel L. Jackson portrayed a loyal house slave held by Leonardo DiCaprio's cruel plantation owner character.
"His girl (Diab) goes out and put out this racist gesture and doesn't know we are in the back office about to try to get this guy signed," Lewis said on the Showtime show. "Steve Bisciotti has said it himself: 'How can you crucify Ray Lewis when Ray Lewis is the one calling for Colin Kaepernick?'"
Kaepernick drew national attention last season while playing for the San Francisco 49ers when he knelt during the national anthem as a protest against racial injustice. He opted out of his contract with the 49ers on March 3 and has yet to sign with an NFL team. He previously stated he will not kneel during the anthem in 2017.
Bisciotti admitted in early August that he was torn whether to sign the controversial quarterback because of the possible backlash from fans. Kaepernick's girlfriend then posted the picture of Bisciotti and Lewis three days after the owner said "we're very sensitive to it, and we're monitoring it, and we're trying to figure out what's the right tact, so pray for us" at a fan forum with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at M&T Bank Stadium.
Lewis was asked on "Inside the NFL" whether the Ravens would have signed Kaepernick if not for the tweet.
"Then he's flying him to Baltimore," Lewis said Tuesday night. "I am sitting with all three of them and we are all having a conversation about bringing Colin Kaepernick in."