by Mark VivianoBy Mark Viviano

Following the Ravens most recent victory, a win over the Browns in Cleveland that improved the Ravens record to 8-and-6, head coach John Harbaugh said in his post-game press conference, “Baltimore Ravens fans are incredible and I think they’re starting to get excited about this football team.”

Fourteen games into a 16-game NFL season and just now fans are getting excited about a playoff-bound team? That’s unusual for the Ravens.

It’s been an unusual season. The team has long sought to get a Monday Night home game but when they played and beat the Houston Texans in prime time at M&T Banks Stadium on November 27, the stadium was not filled to capacity.

I asked Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs if he’s noticed the number of empty seats at M&T Bank stadium this season.

“Nah, I haven’t noticed,” he said. “I thought it’s been loud in there. I haven’t noticed but we could use their help.”

The players may not be aware but the Ravens front office can’t help but notice the thousands of unoccupied seats at home games and they’ve addressed the issue of “no shows” in a letter from team president Dick Cass to season ticket holders (entire letter below). The letter underscores the Ravens’ long history of hard work and success on the field and in the community while also acknowledging that there have been times in past years when seats were empty because of the Ravens’ poor play.

But with the Ravens in the hunt for a playoff spot in 2017 he writes: “…this year has been different. The numbers (of empty seats) are higher, and it is noticeable. There are a number of reasons for the no-shows, but surely the one-time protest in London has been a factor.”

It’s no secret that league-wide pre-game player protests to bring awareness to civil rights issues have turned a number of fans away from the NFL. In my many personal conversations with Ravens fans in addition to those I’ve interacted with on social media, it’s mentioned repeatedly that “taking a knee” has caused some fans to take a hike. They’ve opted to tune out Ravens games on TV and others have decided not to use the game tickets they’ve already purchased, leaving their seats empty. Other fans have said that their disinterest in the Ravens this year is rooted in the team’s boring or predictable style of play, their inconsistent performances or the overall declining quality of most NFL games. But it’s clear — the player protests are the hot topic that has some fans still burning and the Ravens address that issue in further detail in the letter to fans.

“That became an emotional and divisive issue. We know that hurt some of you. Others saw it differently and welcomed the dialogue that followed. Others bluntly told us to keep statements and protests out of the game. There are some of you who have stayed away from our games.

We have responded to your concerns about the protest by re-doubling the efforts of both the organization and our players to make the Baltimore area a better community. We have also reached out to a number of you who wrote or called about the protest. I personally made a number of phone calls and met with some of you. Some of my Ravens colleagues have also made a number of calls. While we have not been able to reach all of you, we have learned a lot from these interactions.

We want the Ravens to continue to be a strong, unifying force and source of pride in our community. When the Ravens win, we can bring families and the community together. We’ve done that before, and we can do it again. In light of recent events, we are also reminded that winning alone is not always enough to make the Ravens the unifying force we want to be.”

The Ravens are well on their way to a playoff berth and will clinch a postseason spot with victories in their final two games: vs. Indianapolis (Saturday) and Cincinnati (Dec. 31), both at home. The lack of enthusiasm and “Purple Passion” seen and felt in previous years is palpable. The Ravens have taken notice and are trying to win back fans while they try to win games.

===================================================

(entire letter below)

From Dick Cass, Team President

I am writing to thank you for your continued support of the Baltimore Ravens. You are an important part of who we are and what we have become.

Created over 22 seasons, our bonds with you are strong and deep. Our Ravens family is built on memories of great games, plays and people. That foundation includes you and Ravens players named Jonathan, Ray, Ed, Sizzle, Joe, Todd, Bart, Goose, Mac, Edwin and many others. Our cement is a pair of Super Bowls, the “Mile High Miracle,” the single-season best defense ever, and playoff wins in New England, Oakland and Pittsburgh, as well as memorable regular season victories at M&T Bank Stadium over Jacksonville, the Steelers and Seattle and the snow game against Minnesota.

All along, our organization and our players have volunteered to make our community better. That work continues almost daily and, certainly, weekly. We are especially proud of our current players’ commitment to make Baltimore a better place to live and work.

We are once again in a serious battle to make the playoffs. If we achieve that goal, it will be the seventh time in the last 10 years. But we know it has been an unusual season. A glut of injuries, especially on offense, had us struggling early to find both consistency and our identity.

We had the poor showing in London, complicated by the kneeling of a dozen players during the National Anthem. That became an emotional and divisive issue. We know that hurt some of you. Others saw it differently and welcomed the dialogue that followed. Others bluntly told us to keep statements and protests out of the game. There are some of you who have stayed away from our games.

We have had significant numbers of no-shows in the past when our play on the field has not met the high standard we and you have set for the Ravens. But this year has been different. The numbers are higher, and it is noticeable. There are a number of reasons for the no-shows, but surely the one-time protest in London has been a factor.

We have responded to your concerns about the protest by re-doubling the efforts of both the organization and our players to make the Baltimore area a better community. We have also reached out to a number of you who wrote or called about the protest. I personally made a number of phone calls and met with some of you. Some of my Ravens colleagues have also made a number of calls. While we have not been able to reach all of you, we have learned a lot from these interactions.

We want the Ravens to continue to be a strong, unifying force and source of pride in our community. When the Ravens win, we can bring families and the community together. We’ve done that before, and we can do it again. In light of recent events, we are also reminded that winning alone is not always enough to make the Ravens the unifying force we want to be.

We don’t take your support for granted, and we know that we must continue to earn your respect and investment in us. We are committed to putting the best possible team on the field and providing an outstanding gameday experience for you. That commitment requires us to continue to make significant investments in our facilities. This summer we will finish our $45 million renovation and expansion of our Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills. By the beginning of the 2019 season, we will complete our ongoing $120 million renovation of M&T Bank Stadium. (By the way, our first set of escalators to the upper bowl will be completed in 2018.)

We hope you and your loved ones are having a wonderful holiday season. Let’s add to the celebration with a Ravens run to the postseason. Thank you for reading this.

Sincerely,

Dick Cass

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Comments (24)
  1. J.R. Coker says:

    So now they need us…..go F yourselves.

  2. Playoffs, community support mean nothing, the team knelt on foreign soil, a Sovereign country that many Americans died for freedom and equality: not once but three times.. Shame on the team and anyone who supports them. I’m done with the Ravens and the NFL. Yea, so Cass, take Coker ‘s advice.

  3. In our family we have lost loved ones who have stood up for our country and even died for our freedom. Is it too much for the players to stand up and show respect for the flag?? Now you wonder why you have empty seats at the games??

  4. It is not that the players participated in league-wide pre-game protests to bring awareness to civil rights issues, it is in the fashion that they did it, rubbing the fans nose in what they held sacred, destroying a small time they set aside in their life to leave their troubles behind and cheer on a local franchise and wear the team colors…. these players are rich beyond the average fans means and have a wealth of ways to express their opinions and create change, if it is truly that important to them, organize and do it without spitting on the fans.

  5. John Hammen says:

    I have served the citizens of Baltimore County (where the majority of your paying fan base resides) both as a firefighter and a police officer for a combined 43 years. The disrespect to our country is one thing and is appalling. But the disrespect to our first responders’, particularly police officers, is unforgivable. There is nothing you can do or say to repair that damage. One step forward would be to conduct background and drug checks on your players the same as any other business has to do. A felony record or the commission of a felony while employed requires termination. Police do not oppress citizens. The citizens commit crimes that causes an interaction with the police. Suggs is a liar by saying he did not notice the lack of fans. Lies are the kind of things that fans notice He has been one of the most noticeable offenders that has caused the lack of fans. We also noticed that Ray Lewis is staying out of sight since he joined the protest. Why is his statue still there since over 100,000 fans signed a petition to remove it? Until you employ an entire league of crime free boy scouts, your letters to the fans are useless. I will not spend any of my pension money to support a bunch of lying felons.

  6. John Orlando says:

    Many people in Baltimore, my family included, have family members that have significant sacrifices for the this country, as veterans an 1st responders. STAND FOR THE ANTHEM. And STOP Insulting your fan base!!

  7. Not a Ravens fan. Been a Patriots fan since they were the Boston Patriots. I”m still amazed that you people(NFL), still don’t get it. I served 20 years in the US Navy (including a shot yard period in Sparrows Point Shipyard). The players taking a knee and disrespecting me and all of my fellow veterans. I’m done with the NFL. Haven’t watched a game this year, and won’t. No support of anything for these racist, america hating, cowards. Enjoy your bankruptcy.

  8. Brian Sexton says:

    The behavior of the Ravens in London to kneel at our flag but stand in respect to Englands is horrible behavior. it is disrespectful to the men and women of the USA that fought for this country. A bunch of overpaid athletes disrespecting this is reason enough for me to turn off my tv and have never watched the NFL since. Football is entertainment for fans. You need to realize that your behavior warrants a tremendous apology.

  9. No support here. Until they terminate the disrespectful protests by these over privileged whiners, we will will not be watching/supporting the Ravens or the NFL.

  10. Rich Seibert says:

    End the NFL
    The entire NFL is an illegal trust. It’s a monopoly that was illegally legalized by Congress.
    ESPN is bleeding subscribers. The NFL’s anti-American turn is alienating fans. And cable is collapsing.
    NFL teams loot millions from taxpayers to fund their stadiums. The Seahawks have a point about injustice. And the injustice is that taxpayers had to spend $390 million on their stadium.
    Who will let Washington taxpayers take a knee and opt out of being exploited by the Seahawks?
    Sweetheart deals like these are not uncommon. The NFL comes with a pass on property taxes (those are for little people) and taxes in general. Until 2015, the NFL was a non-profit. “Professional football leagues” was actually inserted into the Internal Revenue Code to provide a special non-profit status. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell got paid $44 million in one year. That made him the highest paid non-profit exec in the country.
    That monopoly allows the NFL and its teams to cash in on television licensing and team gear. After the NFL uses its illegal monopoly to rip off broadcasters, ESPN rips off cable subscribers.
    ESPN pays the NFL almost $2 billion a year. Even if you don’t watch ESPN, you’re paying $9 a month for it because of yet another illegal monopoly. If you subscribe to cable or live in a major city, the odds are good that your pocket is being picked by the millionaire racists “taking a knee” against America.
    But the monopolies are dying.
    Anthem bashing is popular with the left. And it’s very popular with the social justice bloggers who increasingly dominate sports journalism, and not just on ESPN. Hating America will score points with the left.
    But the NFL is no longer just a corrupt monopoly. Instead it’s becoming a radical anti-American organization that uses its taxpayer-subsidized stadiums and monopoly broadcasting rights to spread hatred toward this country and disrespect to the soldiers who fought and died for it.
    Break up the corrupt Democrat monopoly of the NFL and demolish the barriers to the formation of independent leagues by taking on the NFL, ESPN and its broadcasting partners in crime.

    https://pamelageller.com/2017/10/end-the-nfl.html/

  11. Rich Seibert says:

    Kaepernick social media posts laud Black Lives Matter, Black Panthers since dating Muslim activist DJ | Fox News
    NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s conversion to social activism coincided with his romancing of a hip hop DJ of Egyptian descent who has frequently spoken about perceived racial injustices and “Islamaphobia” in the U.S.
    Kaepernick, 28, who has come under fire for his decision to remain seated during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner before San Francisco 49ers games, reportedly began dating Hot 97 DJ and MTV host Nessa Diab in July 2015. A few months later, his social media posts began to reflect the Black Lives Matter and Muslim activism of Diab.
    “History!” Kaepernick wrote on Instagram Oct. 15, when he marked 50 years since the Black Panther Party was founded.
    31 of his last 42 posts have strong social justice connotations, often featuring quotes from radical Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X, Black Panthers founder Huey Newton and cop killer Assata Shakur. During a Sunday news conference about the flag flap, Kaepernick dressed in a black hat with a large, white “X” and a T-shirt that featured photos of Cuban despot Fidel Castro and Malcolm X
    Nessa Diab’s Twitter and Instagram account is a mish-mash of black activism, celebrity pics and the occasional defense of Islam. She frequently retweets Black Lives Matter supporter and newspaper columnist Shaun King on race-related issues.
    Diab said in a March 2014 interview that she spent many of her formative years in Saudi Arabia, after her dad was transferred there from a job in California.

    http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2016/08/30/kaepernick-social-media-posts-laud-black-lives-matter-black-panthers-since-dating-activist-dj.html

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