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Muscle Sport Magazine

Ravens Admit Low Attendance – Knee Protest Connection

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In a desperate attempt to appeal to his ever-dwindling fan base, Baltimore Ravens team president Dick Cass stated the obvious in a lengthy letter mailed to season ticket holders, suite holders and even sponsors to put more asses in the seats during the final two home games and playoff push.

“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,” the letter (in its entirety below) read. “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.”

That is a reference to Week 3 when a line was drawn in the proverbial sand regarding these protests and many fans (as well as this media outlet) have chosen to boycott a league that was very recently of the ‘could-do-no-wrong’ variety. Those days are gone and the Ravens situation may be a microcosm of that.

Their players only protested the National Anthem on that September 24th day in a game played in London and knelt together in prayer the following week before standing for The Star Spangled Banner and were booed for doing so. Not a single player has taken a knee since.

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It is quite apparent that a number of fans in Baltimore – considered a very strong base – have decided to stay away from M&T Bank Stadium even though their team can clinch their first postseason berth since 2014 with wins in their two remaining games – home contests versus Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

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Regardless of what happens, the fans have already spoke and there is no positive spin on the effects of the players’ protest. It has been more than a distraction and can possibly be the beginning of the end of the NFL as we once knew it.

Here is the full letter:

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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