Ravens Towel Giveaway? In A Word, “Terrible”

November 27, 2009 | Glenn Clark

I want to start this entry by commending the Baltimore Ravens organization, Under Armour, and the Wounded Warrior Project for a tremendous looking giveaway-one that will be VERY popular with fans who attend the Ravens-Steelers Sunday Night Football game at M&T Bank Stadium…..

towel

…everyone who gets one of these giveaways is going to say “this is pretty cool.”

Unfortunately, that’s the only positive thing I can say about the giveaway.

I’ve read a lot of Facebook/Twitter/blog comments from Ravens fans this week who aren’t happy that the team would “copy” their biggest rival (the Pittsburgh Steelers) in duplicating their “Terrible Towels.” Ravens fans have said things like “We’re much better than them, their towels are stupid” and “I don’t EVER want to look like a Steelersfan by waving around a dumb towel.”

Both comments are valid. When facing a rival-a team that you really despise-the last thing a fan wants to do is admit that there’s ANYTHING good about the entire outfit. No Ravens fan wants to admit it, but I will. Myron Cope’s Terrible Towel was a cool creation that energized an entire fanbase. It’s similar to the “O-H-I-O” Ohio State fans rally around, and even better than the octopuses Red Wings fans bring to games. It’s actually very cool.

But it’s theirs.

Baltimore fans have every right to say they don’t want to be a part of it. The Ravens have nothing to do with towels. No Ravens fan brings a towel to a game to wave it around. It just isn’t our thing here.

It can be defended given the fact that the organization has an unenviable task Sunday night. There will be some 5,000-8,000 Steelers fans who make their way into Charm City Sunday night to root on their team-digging tickets up from professional brokers or needy Ravens ticket holders via sites like Craigslist. And when that group of people starts waving their Yellow towels, it will appear on the NBC broadcast as though there are more like 15,000-20,000 fans from the Steel City who have infiltrated enemy lines.

What the Ravens organization CAN’T stomach (and I’ll say it for them since they likely don’t want to tell me) is a moment where Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth look at a shot of a handful of Steelers fans waving their towels during a 2nd half drive and say “Boy, there are a lot of Steelers fans here tonight; they truly are the best fans in the NFL.”

I commend the Ravens for wanting to prevent something like that from being said during such an important game. It’s the type of statement that would make Ravens (or potential future Ravens fans) cringe-or even make their stomachs turn. The Ravens are trying to combat that, and they deserve credit for it.

Unfortunately, the issue that giving away a towel presents is much greater than combating the appearance of opposing fans. The issue that giving away a towel presents has more to do with working against the needs of the football team itself.

Thinking back to Wednesday, November 18-this is what John Harbaugh had to say about the importance of Ravens fans making noise against Peyton Manning before the Colts came to town…..

“The home crowd can do some things to disrupt him, yes. They can be very loud. Our fans know when to do it. It’s going to be as he comes to the line of scrimmage, it’s going to be with about 20 seconds on the play clock, and it’s got to be just completely eardrum-shattering loud and make him at least make the hand signals and make it tough to communicate and get him off kilter a little bit. Our guys on defense will be able to handle it. We’ll be OK. Those four purple walls on the side, we expect them to be in full throng.”

After hearing about the towel giveaway, I decided to ask Coach Harbaugh about how he thought the fans did on Sunday against Indianapolis, and his expectation for Sunday night against Big Ben and company….

“I’m glad you brought that up about the crowd. I haven’t had a chance to really talk about that in the midst of all the other things we’ve been talking about. But, the crowd was fantastic. I think I saw Peyton say it. He struggled a little bit with some of the communications, some of the recognition issues. And obviously, he handles that stuff better than any quarterback in the league, probably, right now. And our crowd made it tough for the Colts to communicate on offense. I’m sure it will be even better against the Steelers on Sunday night. So, we’re counting on it. It’s a big part of what we do defensively.”

There’s the problem.

The Ravens do NEED noise to be made Sunday night.

Desperately.

Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a head injury, but is still amongst the best quarterbacks ON THE PLANET; and is capable of noticing things at the line of scrimmage and completely changing plays.

The one thing that can change that? Noise.

The one thing fans can do that WON’T make noise? Waving towels.

The organization is working AGAINST the football team by giving away towels. Fans who wave their towels in the 4thquarter while the Ravens defense needs a crucial stop are HURTING their football team. Their hands can be used to clap, pound seats in front of them, bang thundersticks, etc. Fans need to be using their hands to make NOISE!

I remember a certain Monday Night Football game in Pittsburgh last season when Joe Flacco drove the Ravens downfield to tie the football game in the 4th quarter and send the battle for first place in the AFC North to overtime. Steelers fans were waving their towels like crazy, andI didn’t even need to yell to talk to the people rows behind me.

Why? Because there was no noise.

So when a rookie quarterback-playing in his first NFL road game-was driving his team to tie a game against their bitter rivals; the opposing fans were doing everything they could to help make him more comfortable.

Thanks, Terrible Towels!

There’s no way for me to be okay with this. This giveaway is not just a bad idea; it’s DETRIMENTAL to the football team!

I implore Ravens fans who go to the game Sunday night to enjoy their towel. I implore fans to take their towels home, give them to their kids, hang them in the rooms where they watch games, etc.

But I also implore-from the bottom of my heart as a Ravens fan-that during the football game Sunday night you put those towels in your back pocket.

Scream, yell, sing, and USE YOUR HANDS TO MAKE NOISE.

Our football team needs it.

And while I know my suggestion will fall on deaf ears, I suggest the Ravens organization consider something else with the towels as well.

Give them out as fans LEAVE the game Sunday.

-G

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