I’m going to try to do this the right way, because there are a lot of elements to this.
The first time I saw the commercial for the new incarnation of the “John Riggins Show” on MASN, I felt uncomfortable.
Having seen it 4-5 more times this week, I’ve gotten to the point where it is absolutely stomach-turning.
Let me start by saying that I understand why MASN filmed a commercial with John Riggins in Baltimore. The point of the commercial was to put him on a football field. MASN has an official partnership with the Baltimore Ravens (Comcast SportsNet partners with the Washington Redskins), and John Riggins’ relationship with Daniel Snyder has frosted since Riggins was dismissed from Snyder’s Red Zebra radio operation.
Filming a MASN commercial for the John Riggins Show at FedEx Field simply wasn’t an option. Not after Riggins took to YouTube to put together a series of YouTube videos like this…
The simple solution may have been to take Riggins over to RFK Stadium and film the commercial there; but RFK doesn’t have football yardage painted on the field. They’d be filming a commercial at a soccer stadium. Still probably a better option, but not ideal.
And clearly, MASN hoped to promote not only The John Riggins Show-but also their Baltimore Ravens “coverage” by showing M&T Bank Stadium in the background. Seeing the stadium is also a reminder that Training Camp starts soon, and fans in Baltimore will be packing “The Bank” for exhibition games that can be seen live on MASN.
That’s where my defense of them will end.
The fact is, there’s nothing okay about filming a John Riggins commercial at M&T Bank Stadium. There’s nothing okay with mixing purple colors and Washington Redskins highlights. There’s CERTAINLY nothing okay with using an audio clip that is CLEARLY designed to sound like “Hail to the Redskins” on top of a commercial that includes a stand-in that just so happens to be a dead-ringer for Art Modell.
The fact is, no one in the District of Columbia will care or be offended by this commercial one bit. Mostly because the handful of real sports fans in DC are indifferent to the Ravens. The handful of real sports fans in DC hate the Dallas Cowboys, but don’t much care about other teams. The majority of sports fans in DC are transient; and root for more than one team. It isn’t particularly surprising to bump into a sports fan in the District that wears a Tigers hat and a Red Sox shirt.
That’s just the way their market works. Certainly, they care about the Skins much more than they care about any other franchise in their city-but there are a number of folks in the District, Northern Virginia and Prince George’s County that would admit that they probably follow the Ravens as their 2nd team, and pull for the Ravens after the Redskins season ends. (Not a low blow Redskins fans, just a fact.)
No one in DC is angry about seeing John Riggins walking around M&T Bank Stadium. It just doesn’t matter to them. It’s similar to the god-awful “Battle of the Beltways” marketing MASN does. MASN uses weekends like this to promote the fact that they carry BOTH of the area’s “home teams.” They mesh Bob Carpenter, Jim Hunter, Jim Palmer and Rob Dibble in a broadcast booth-send mascots for both teams to the games, and celebrate the two teams as if they were basically just the American League and National League versions of each other.
In DC, no one is bothered. A large number of fans in DC root for the Baltimore Orioles, whether they also root for the Washington Nationals or not. It isn’t offensive to Nats fans to see the Oriole Bird at Nationals Park. It isn’t offensive to hear Jim Palmer dissect John Lannan (or that Strasburg fella) in the broadcast booth on their home broadcast.
In DC, there’s a feeling that the two really ARE both “home teams.”
MASN has clearly capitalized on that, understanding that Washington is simply a larger market than Baltimore. With Strasburg mania making the Nationals suddenly more marketable than they’ve ever been before, MASN is clearly invested in Washington. They’re moving Scott Garceau’s show earlier in the afternoon to make prime room for Riggins’ show, which can only be heard on the HD3 signal of WTOP on a daily basis. They’re doing it simply to compete against “Washington Post Live” on CSN.
This isn’t about MASN putting John Riggins on the air. I think putting radio shows on TV is dreadful programming myself, but they’ve chosen to go that route. They’ve also chosen to market to Washington, as their network extends into Washington.
I’ve accepted all of that.
But what I WON’T accept is what a slap in the face the John Riggins M&T Bank Stadium commercial is to fans in Charm City.
We AREN’T transient. We DON’T root for the Redskins when the Ravens aren’t playing.
In fact, judging from the response to first annual “I Hate The Redskins” show on AM1570 WNST last year (we’ll be doing it again this year, trust me); I’m not the only man in town whose attitude of the team that wears Burgundy & Gold is one of absolute rage.
John Riggins is walking around M&T Bank Stadium in front of the purple seats that are owned by the people of Baltimore. Those are seats that are owned thanks to unbelievably hard work by folks in a blue-collar city. Redskins fans could never possibly understand that.
In Baltimore, we DO NOT HAVE TWO HOME TEAMS. Despite the small group of people that choose to root for the Washington Capitals (and do NOT count me amongst them), we DO NOT CARE for the Washington Redskins. It ISN’T okay to see the Washington Redskins celebrated in Baltimore. It ISN’T okay to see the Washington Redskins promoted at M&T Bank Stadium.
There is leadership within both MASN and sadly the Baltimore Ravens that won’t fully understand that because they AREN’T from Baltimore. They accept that the Pittsburgh Steelers are a rival, but they don’t understand that the Washington Redskins are despised at an almost equal level.
The sense of “why would Ravens fans care about Washington” previals amongst those who aren’t from this town.
Call it “little man syndrome” or a “Napoleon Complex” or whatever you want; but it’s just a fact. We aren’t okay with Washington or the Redskins here. They’re not welcome, and we will NOT celebrate them.
It’s why the majority of us stopped watching Comcast SportsNet some time ago. I will never be interested in what’s going on with Albert Haynesworth or Clinton Portis-unless they suddenly don purple and black.
Washington is a big market. It’s understandable for a Top 10 media market to look desirable to folks in the 22nd largest media market in the country.
But it HAS to be understood that if you want to reach out to Baltimore, you must accept that we hate the Redskins. It makes our stomach turn. Paul Tagliabue tried to keep the NFL out of our town and force us to watch the Redskins play the Phoenix Cardinals on a Sunday afternoon when we could have been watching the Green Bay Packers play the San Francisco 49ers.
Washington fans got over Peter Angelos trying to block MLB in the district. But Washington fans aren’t blue collar, diehard, live or die passionate fans. Folks who aren’t from Baltimore won’t understand that. There is no “getting over” our anger towards Washington. We’re reminded of it on a daily basis. When Jimmy Buffett comes to town this summer, I’m going to be told that I can see him “locally” at Nissan Pavilion in Bristow.
I’m not “getting over it.”
And if MASN is going to succeed and make fans in Baltimore, they’re going to have to understand that. It isn’t cute to put John Riggins next to someone who you obviously hand-picked for his resemblence to Art Modell. It isn’t okay to put together an audio clip that sounds an awful lot like “Hail to the Redskins” while you’re filming at the stadium that represents the best thing this entire city has going for it.
It works in Washington. It doesn’t work in Baltimore. In Baltimore, it is COMPLETELY unacceptable.
Film the next commercial at Wilde Lake High School, or in College Park.
Just don’t celebrate the Redskins at our Purple Palace.