Ravens training camp decision makes sense … but it still hurts a little

December 02, 2011 | Drew Forrester


I’m not at all surprised the Ravens are going to forgo their annual 24-day pilgrimage to Westminster and instead hold training camp within the confines of their own fences in Owings Mills.

It makes all the sense in the world.

Especially to a football franchise completely and overwhelmingly dedicated to winning.

The decision to stay in Owings Mills for training camp 2012 is rooted in just that:  Winning.  The Ravens believe they have a better chance of being better prepared — yes, I meant to write it that way — by staying home in August rather than moving their entire operation 35 minutes away.

And they’re right, most likely.

After all, NO ONE in the organization wanted to be in Westminster for training camp.  NO ONE.  Nothing against McDaniel College or any of the other folks who were associated with training camp in Carroll County.  Frankly, those people made having training camp in Westminster somewhat tolerable.

And this past August the Ravens saw first-hand how comfortable their players and staff were when training camp was forced out of McDaniel and was instead held at their own home — the facility in Owings Mills.  There’s a reason why free agents make one trip to the Castle and say, “Where do I sign?”  That place is Malibu with a football field.

Having seen what camp at Owings Mills is like — and comparing it to what’s offered at McDaniel — it just made zero sense to move OUT of Owings Mills and have training camp elsewhere.  Nothing good – from a football standpoint – happened at McDaniel College.  It was an out-dated concept for the Ravens and by pulling the plug on it today, they showed once again they’re more dedicated to winning than any of us can possibly imagine.

And if you’re really looking for someone to slap the blame on, make sure you take a dig at the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which has greatly reduced the amount of off-season interaction the teams are allowed to have with their employees, otherwise known as “players”.  In the past, the club ran training camp.  Now, starting in 2012, the players will basically run it and the club will just go with the flow and try their best to be ready for opening day.  Reduced practice sessions, less contact, more time off, etc.  That’s another reason why training camp is better served at Owings Mills than Westminster.

Will it leave a hole in summer plans for Ravens fans?  Sure.  It was a cool experience to head out to Westminster and watch the club practice.  Some people who either can’t afford NFL tickets or just can’t enjoy the regular season gameday experience at M&T Bank Stadium have used the open practices at McDaniel to get their purple-fix.

Those folks need to be kept in mind as the Ravens decide how they’re going to “make good” — for lack of a better team — to those they’ve disappointed with today’s decision to stay in Owings Mills.

I’ve already seen Twitter filings and read e-mails from people yelping about this as if it’s akin to something the Orioles would do. First of all, we should all be so lucky – the 1,524 of us who are still Orioles die-hards, that is – to have the baseball team in town put as much stock in winning as the football team does.  The baseball team hasn’t REALLY cared about winning here since Bill Clinton was the President.  It’s all the Ravens EVER care about, which is why they’re staying in Owings Mills.

And the Ravens will — and I’d bet my golf clubs and tickets to a Springsteen concert on this — come out with a detailed plan sometime next spring that outlines how the fans will be allowed to get up close and personal with the players next summer during training camp.

A source within the organization tells me the decision ultimately was placed on the desk of owner Steve Bisciotti, but with everyone in the building voting to stay in Owings Mills, even the owner of the team saw he was fighting a losing battle

13 Comments For This Post

  1. eric Says:

    It makes NO sense. It reeks of the same arrogance the O’s had in the mid 90’s drawing 3.5 mil fans and saying “Hey we can afford to irritate people” by not having promotional giveaways and coming up with Gestapo tactics dealing with the media. The Ravens bent over backwards to get fans when they moved here and now that they are a behemoth they are telling us to take a flying leap and if we don’t like it there are plenty of fans ready to take your tickets. Very surprising attittude by an organization that normally does everything right on and off the field. (DF: Bizarre take, but not surprising. You must not be reading or listening very carefully, only (over) reacting. They’ve said “we’re going to come out with a plan to make sure the fans know we care about them”. And as I wrote, I’ll take them at their word on that until I see otherwise. The Ravens have been successful for the better part of a decade or so…they’ve had plenty of opportunities to become “high and mighty” and they’ve never done it. This is absolutely the right thing for them to do, as long as they come up with opportunities for the fans to still see the team up close and personal.)

  2. clifclav Says:

    I always thought training camp was a stupid and anachronistic holdover from days when guys were getting fat and out of shape in the off season and they needed to be whipped into shape and locked down at night.

    It makes little sense to have a multi-million dollar, state of the art facility for training, planning and physical therapy and then leave that facility in the most important month of the year. (The month before the season starts!)

    Stay at Owings Mills, have four or five free, open practices around town and get ready for the season in the best place you can.

    Good decision.

  3. jpetrosino Says:

    It’s an inconvience for 10-20 people in the Raven’s organization so it’s better to inconvience/dissappoint 100,000 raven fans who go out of their way to the practices each year.

    How about spending money on modernizing McDaniel college with the realization you will have a tighter bond with your fans for years andd years to come in order to ensure the sell out crowds of 70,000 screaming fans plus merchandise….Sounds like they are taking advice from Angelos, let’s hope the Ravens don’t screw this up like the Orioles…(i.e. it’s expensive to be cheap). (DF: No, Joe. It’s a pain the butt for EVERYONE in the organization. Not 10-20. And let’s wait and see what options they offer the fans for coming out and meeting and seeing the players next summer. Shouldn’t we do that first?)

  4. Joe Says:

    Did I read this correctly that the Ravens will lose $250,000.00 by moving training camp to its own facility? I don’t understand how that is. Mike Preston suggested that the Ravens lost money by holding training camp in Westminster. I trust your analysis more than his. Please explain how they lose money by this move. Thank you.

  5. David F Says:

    There is no way to replicate what fans got at McDaniel by having a couple of mass group outings at M&T Bank Stadium. I understand the need to win but winning at all costs and possibly costing fans a chance to go see the Ravens in a more intimate setting is just setting up for failure the first time the Ravens have an off year. I think the Ravens made a mistake by just looking at the bottom line. (DF: Which bottom line? The financial bottom line? Did you read the piece I wrote? They LOSE money by going to Owings Mills. What’s the other bottom line? Winning. If that’s what you mean, you’re right, they’re choosing Owings Mills over McDaniel because of winning and because of the CBA and because no one in the organization except the owner wants training camp in Westminster.)

  6. Virg Says:

    You’re right – it is ALL about winning. This team could NEVER win a Super Bowl while having camp at Westminster. Oh…wait a minute…never mind. The comparisons to the Orioles are 100% appropriate in this case. This comes down to not caring what the fans think, as long as 73,000+ are at the stadium on Sundays. They just better keep winning if they are going to treat the fans like this. Just ask the Orioles.

  7. steve Says:

    look, I get it….obviously folks don’t understand “the new NFL”…the players ‘gave back’ a bunch of money and in return ‘got back’ alot of time in the form of fewer off season work outs, mini’s and reduced training camp

    people need to understand that while it was nice to visit McDaniel for a practice in the summer (I did on several occasions w/my grandson), “that NFL” no longer exists…

    I’m sure the Ravens will make every effort to work a few “fan friendly” experiences into the program this summer….they have proved time and time again to me they do it the right way–I’ll allow them the opportunity to work that out before I even begin to compare them to the Orioles…for those that have, seriously—think about that for just a second…Steve, Ozzie&Co are in a different stratosphere as compared to the boys in Orange

  8. John Says:

    Steve Bisciotti should have had the stones to say no when it hit his desk. He should have told his football people to stop with the excuses and make it happen. His chief competitors the Pittsburgh Steelers train at a college 40 miles away and it sucks to admit but they been pretty successful.

  9. Joe Says:

    Drew, if this were the Os doing this, you and Nestor would be all over this like flys over s–t. The Ravens are looking at the bottom line, pure and simple, and to Hell with the fans!! In the beginning, Westminster served the Ravens objective of expanding their fanbase and packing their newly constructed stadium. This all sounds a little Snyderesque to me, so how ’bout treating this the same way you would if it was the Orioles pulling this stuff. (DF: I’m amazed at how many people don’t get it. You being one of them. The Ravens are LOSING money by going to Owings Mills, the Orioles would only make a decision like this if they MADE money. Next, they’re NOT saying “to hell with the fans” – yet. They’re saying, “Give us a couple of months to get our plan together and we’ll show you how we plan on making this up to you.” Do you not get that? When spring rolls around, they’ll roll out a program designed to allow the fans access to the team in the off-season. Some of that will be controlled by the CBA, not the Ravens. So let’s see what that plan is, first, before we make a horse’s ass out of ourselves by writing stupid stuff like…”If this were the Orioles”)

  10. barnyard Says:

    Drew, It makes little difference to me where they train but it does to a lot of the fans. I hope the organization can enlist some sort of program where fans could watch the Ravens practice. The once or even twice open house @ M&t stadium is ok but not enough. The fans are important, at least I would like to believe they are driven by the fans & not just the T.V.revenues.

  11. The "Armchair QB" Says:

    Actually, it hurts….alot! The tradition started for me with my Dad back in 1953 and continued with my sons and for the past few years with my grandchildren. It was an opportunity for a community to “bond” with it’s team and visa versa. That the decision was based on the “bottom line” in addition to logistics is indicative of the world in which we live today. I have no doubt that Bisciotti will find a way to assuage the sense of loss with an alternate plan. But, it’s just another reminder that the “good old days” are……long gone!

  12. Coachviper Says:

    I don’t like it but will I stop rooting for the purple and black? No. Will I stop wearing my Flacco or Rice or Lewis jersey and purple camo pants? No. Will I take down my Ravens flag? No. It’s just business. Don’t ever forget that sports is a business and the “model” has changed. If the model changes again and having a camp away from the Castle make business sense, management will be smart enough to see that and will change again. Get over it!

  13. Justafan Says:

    Perhaps if the Ravens could make arrangements with Stevenson University to conduct some of the scrimmages in their new football stadium, fans would still be able to attend some of the training camp sessions. The college’s athletic facilities are practically next door to the Ravens training facility and may be a viable alternative if the logistics can be worked out.

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