As NFL ratings collapse, the Baltimore Ravens have confirmed that kneeling by players has led to a mass exodus of season-ticket holders skipping out on home games.
I'm shocked at the number of empty seats here at the Ravens game. Wow, I've never seen it like this before in Baltimore.— Scott Abraham (@ScottABC7) December 3, 2017
The team’s President Dick Cass, sent a letter to supporters revealing some challenges the team has faced in 2017. The letter was initially sent to season-ticket holders, suite holders, and sponsors about the "noticeable" no-shows at recent home 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,” the letter reads.
Back in September, some Ravens players gained national attention over the kneeling protest, along with the team’s National Anthem singer– calling it quits (See: “I Don’t Belong Here” – Ravens National Anthem Singer Quits Because “Fans Don’t Understand”). The protests were not limited to only Baltimore but were carried out on a large-scale across many other NFL teams. It was then met by an angry tweetstorm unleashed by Presiden Trump, who criticized players for not standing, which further ignited the fire.
The president attempted to force the NFL to establish a ban on players for kneeling, which fans across Baltimore and the NFL agreed with on average. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti at the time respected his players’ decision to kneel, causing many fans in Baltimore to become even more furious.
Cass further said in the letter, “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.”
Mark Viviano, a reporter for CBS Baltimore, asked Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs if he’s noticed the low attendance rate at games. His response:
“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.”
Cass reminds fans that a winning team builds families and the community. Unfortunately in yet another indication of just how disconnected with reality the NFL's richest and top echelon is, Baltimore has been an absolute - and deteriorating - hell-hole despite any impact from the Ravens (See: Baltimore Murder Rate Surges Again In 2017 (Now Tied With Venezuela); Here’s How Your City Fared).
Meanwhile, in a figurative sense the NFL empire is burning. Throughout its existence, the NFL has served as nothing more than a great distraction providing the American populace with a brief but much needed sabbatical from the conflicts and challenges of daily life. But something remarkable has occurred in 2017, an awakening the likes of which have not been experienced before; a revolt, a backlash - whatever you want to call it - as NFL fans formed a collective consciousness that no NFL team can control, as the NFL made the ridiculous decision of imposing daily reality in what by definition is supposed to be a weekly spectacle of distraction.
For the disastrous outcome, look no further than Baltimore and the reaction of the team’s President, who is now begging ex-fans to come back and re-join the Roman circus, even though it may now be too late.
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(entire letter below, highlights ours)
Dear Ravens Supporter,
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.