Ravens today: Free public practice session is a winner

August 07, 2010 | Drew Forrester

They haven’t played a game yet and the Ravens are already winners.  And to think they didn’t even need Buck Showalter‘s help in pulling it off.

John Harbaugh brought his team and staff to M&T Bank Stadium this afternoon and gave everyone in attendance a dose of football fever nearly five weeks before the season kicks off on September 13.

And yes, today’s open practice at M&T Bank Stadium was conveniently arranged AFTER the outcry from the fans about the autograph policy change in Westminster to start 2010 training camp.  Sure, the players do need a practice or two on the new turf to familiarize themselves with it before the first game in late September, but the club could have held a few closed-to-the-public workouts between now and then for that purpose.

This, today, was the Ravens way of saying, “We know a lot of you weren’t thrilled with the autograph policy change (even though attendance doesn’t reflect it thus far) and even though it was something we HAD to do for a variety of reasons, we’ll go out of our way to make it up to you somehow.”

Admission was free today.  That’s on the Ravens.  They’re the ones that forked over nearly $40,000 to open the stadium and bring training camp to the stadium for a day.  The parking folks even took a hit today, asking only $5, and the food and beverage people did what they always do in every stadium in America — gouged everyone — but this get-together on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Baltimore was a home-run because the Ravens once again lived by their own operational standard…”do right by the fans”.

Always ahead of the game and always able to react quickly…that’s the Ravens.

This is the part where I’d make reference to the other team in town and their asinine decision to raise game-day ticket prices at the start of 2010 and how they did NOTHING to appease the disgruntled fan base who have responded by doing what they’ve done regularly over the last 3-4 years — not showing up at the ballpark.

But today is about how good the Ravens are — not about bad marketing decisions made by “the other team”.

Nearly half the lower deck was filled with purple-clad enthusiasts this afternoon, and there was nothing to do at the stadium except watch.  For most, though, that was more than enough.

We’re all so desperate for football action here, Ravens play-by-play voice Gerry Sandusky was doing live play by play over the PA system.  Seriously, he was.  “And there’s a good end-over-end punt from Sam Koch, and it’s caught nicely by the newest Raven, defensive back, Doug Dutch.”

You think that’s funny?

People in the north end zone actually CHEERED the catch by Dutch.

That’s when you know you’ve made it as an organization.

And the Ravens have made it.

But we all knew that already.

It was just cool to be reminded of it again at the stadium today.