Tag Archive | "London"

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Were PSLs really an ‘investment’ all those years ago? Ravens fans will soon find out

Posted on 27 December 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

Part 3: The Ghost of Baltimore Football Future

As Baltimore Ravens president Dick Cass recently pointed out in a letter to the club’s Personal Seat License holders and top financial supporters, the spaciousness of the team’s home games this season can certainly be traced back to a warm afternoon a continent away in London, England when a dozen players took The Wembley Knee during the National Anthem.

Or, on “foreign soil,” as so many patriots have stated on the internet. It’s unclear how many PSL owners are purposely keeping those seats empty as a boycott and how many just can’t resell or even give away the tickets for free as a gift.

The new “cool debate” during the holidays has been the loyal Ravens fans excited about a playoff berth and still going to the games fighting with the ones who used to go to the games about how any real, true-blooded American could possibly support the National Football League and these disrespectful black players who hate our military and The President.

That’s where we are in this debate entering 2018.

But you want me to “stick to sports,” right?

Let’s be clear about how the upper deck got empty and how the fan base got uppity: if Donald J. Trump didn’t go on the attack with NFL players and call them “sons of bitches,” The Wembley Knee wouldn’t exist nor would The Knee of 180 players of color that around the sport that day in September 2017.

No sane person should argue this point.

But, no matter the reason, rationale, politics, philosophy, patriotism or the color of your skin or theirs, the result has been quite eye-opening for anyone who has witnessed a home game for the Baltimore Ravens since The Wembley Knee and subsequent drubbing at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars in London back on September 24th.

Time will tell what the impact of The Wembley Knee will be in the coming years to season tickets and PSLs and their street value.

Time will also tell what real damage there will be to the franchise and how it rebounds from this political crisis that Steve Bisciotti never could’ve

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Before The Knee in Wembley and SOBs of Donald Trump there was left hook of Ray Rice

Posted on 21 December 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

PART 2: The Ghost of Baltimore Football Present

The fact that the Baltimore Ravens have lost some fans this year is indisputable.

It’s also a fact that after 22 years of consistent sellouts and mostly competitive football – unprecedented in the modern post-expansion NFL world – the Ravens have certainly been the best thing about Baltimore to come along during my adulthood.

By any measurement of its 32 teams and their successes on and off the field, any student of the National Football League considers the Baltimore Ravens a “model” franchise.

And I make no excuses or hide from this transparent fact – other than my parents, son and wife (and her miracle donor) to coming along in my 49 years on earth, the Baltimore Ravens have been the best thing to ever happen to my life. Professionally. Socially. Spiritually. Whatever I’ve ever been able to do, see, accomplish, contribute, build or have the ability to make a small positive difference in the world of local sports and media and charity has come because that purple football team came to Baltimore.

I have respected that opportunity and have worked tirelessly to make it a big part of my life and business and legacy.

So, I have no shame in admitting that Art Modell changed my life when that team miraculously landed here in October 1995. Everything good that has happened during my journey on life’s highway since that fateful day can be pinned back to Baltimore having an NFL team. The gratitude I have for having the privilege to be a vested fan with a voice and a major investment in a local AM radio station, thriving web and social media outlet and the ability to feed my family moving forward relies on local sports thriving and blossoming in my hometown. I own a sports media company here. My business partner is the former head coach of the only first Super Bowl title there will ever be in Baltimore on behalf of the Living Classrooms Foundation. I own a company in Towson, Maryland. I live in downtown Baltimore.

I pay taxes here.

I care a lot.

The Baltimore Ravens have been much more than a football team for many people here since their arrival and their incredible arc of success on the field and in the community.

The Ravens have consistently been the one common ground – a centerpiece for everyone with pride in our community to rally around and support unilaterally in a world that seems in a constant attempt to divide us.

On its best day and at its actualized pinnacle, sports universally brings people together and can be a shining example for society in regard to fairness, hard work, sacrifice, competition, strategy and perseverance. We’ve all heard and used those axioms and realize that sports teaches teamwork and teamwork builds strong

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Is Thrill of NFL football gone in Baltimore? Has the purple era of civic love ended for the Ravens?

Posted on 19 December 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

PART 1: The Ghost Of Baltimore Football Past

The empty seats and the many unused tickets at Ravens games are no longer “breaking news” in Baltimore. Swaths of shiny purple seatbacks at M&T Bank have been without derrieres this fall and everyone, it seems, has a different excuse, reason or rage toward the football team that has delivered two joyous parades for the metropolis so far this century after the lost NFL generation between the Ravens and the Colts.

The truth is obvious to any of us who watched Ray Lewis dance The Squirrel for 17 years and its accompanying roar in a bursting fit of civic celebration for all to cheer and emulate. It’s clear that the fanaticism that spawned a generation of fans in Baltimore is now waning.

For many, the thrill is gone.

And it happened so quickly.

Tens of thousands of Baltimore Ravens ticket holders – vested by PSLs purchased two decades ago for the price of a nice vacation week in Ocean City – are staying away, and from my vantage point are protesting more than just “The Knee” or the political statements of players of color in the NFL.

The fans, even with the money already sunk on their credit cards months ago, are saying “Bah! Humbug!” to the Baltimore Ravens as we enter 2018. And the arc of the glorious purple football honeymoon, which seemed to last a good generation after Art Modell brought the Cleveland Browns to the Charm City, is now gone – evaporated amidst the empty patches throughout the stadium and the long line of ticket sellers on everyone’s social media threads.

I own two PSLs in Section 513. I lovingly called them “Poor Suckers Licenses” on the radio to David Modell’s face 20 years ago. I paid $500 each. I have now purchased somewhere around 220 Ravens game tickets since 1996. It’s almost like a $2.50 per game “surcharge” at this point. As I pointed out then, it was simply the small upfront cost of having NFL football for everyone in Baltimore and Maryland who wanted it. I never saw it as “an investment” but I also never tried to sell my PSL after the Super Bowl wins, when apparently they held strong value.

This three-part series is about the obvious issues the Baltimore Ravens are facing – on and off the field and many of the issues are similar in other cities around the NFL that would prefer full stadiums and fervor but instead settle for massive television revenue. This civic nonchalance has spread into a community that has become somnambulant about what used to stir passions to fight men from Pittsburgh – or anywhere the Ravens purple name was disparaged.

I will be the first to tell you that I don’t have any answers or fast solutions for the Baltimore Ravens and their beleaguered front office and ownership. Steve Bisciotti, Dick Cass and everyone in charge in Owings Mills are keenly aware of all of the issues I’ll address. Many season ticket holders have been called. Letters have been written. Opinions have been expressed in many directions. I’m sure you’ve seen them on your social media thread as well. Everyone has at least one “outraged” Ravens fan and civic patriot in their universe.

At some point, the season ticket renewals will be coming in February and March and the folks who individually write the checks for the tickets will vote their conscience and wallet.

Candidly, the Ravens spend most of their time working on the only thing that they can’t fully control

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Ravens defense aiming to regroup without waking sleeping giant

Posted on 29 September 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Terrell Suggs and other veterans on the Ravens defense vow it won’t happen again.

After forcing a whopping 10 turnovers and allowing a total of 10 points in the first two games of the season, the Baltimore defense collapsed in London in an embarrassing 44-7 defeat. An inept offensive performance that included three turnovers certainly didn’t help, but the 44 points were the most allowed by the Ravens since the 2013 season opener in Denver.

No matter the explanation, the defense fell painfully short of the expectations set for the 2017 campaign after general manager Ozzie Newsome used extensive resources on that side of the ball this offseason.

“There has been a standard in this locker room and with this team and these colors,” Suggs said. “You definitely won’t see a performance like that [again].”

The feelings from that type of loss can linger, making it critical for players to regroup to focus on Sunday’s AFC North showdown with Pittsburgh. There’s also the reality of readjusting from the five-hour time change in London, leading some to believe the Ravens are essentially playing on a short week while the Steelers made only a short trip to Chicago last Sunday.

As ugly as the loss to Jacksonville was, the Ravens know a strong defensive performance and a win over their biggest rival would wipe away any lingering disappointment. The Steelers didn’t exactly fare well against the Bears, who ran for 222 yards against them in an overtime win. The optics may have been brutal, but the Ravens lost only the opportunity to move ahead of Pittsburgh in the AFC North standings when the emotions began to calm.

And if you’re even looking for some historical perspective, the vaunted 2000 Baltimore defense gave up 36 points to the Jaguars — at home, no less — in Week 2 while the 2012 Ravens were throttled by Houston in a 43-13 loss in Week 7. Both of those teams would go on to win the Super Bowl that season, reminding that even the best teams can have nightmare performances.

“A lot of guys were just distraught after the game — which you love to see,” safety Eric Weddle said. “Everyone deals with losses differently. Some guys, they are who they are. Some guys don’t want to talk; some guys are mad and mad for days. That’s good, but you also have to understand that it’s one game.

“We win and lose together. It’s never one guy that makes you lose.”

The defense knows there is work to be done, however, especially after losing defensive end Brent Urban for the season due to a foot injury. Standout defensive tackle Brandon Williams will also miss his second straight game with a foot ailment, putting further strain on a young defensive line lacking experience.

Missed tackles, a lack of pressure on Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, and poor linebacker play were evident at Wembley Stadium, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees insisted Thursday there were fewer assignment mistakes against Jacksonville than in the first two games of the season. That’s difficult to fathom when a defense gives up over 400 yards of offense and five touchdowns, but it lends credence to the belief that the Ravens were flat because of the time change, the emotions stemming from President Donald Trump’s harsh comments about protesting NFL players last weekend, or both.

Whatever the reason, the Ravens were sleepwalking and failed to force a single turnover after coming away with five each against Cincinnati and Cleveland.

“We did not disappear on third down, we did not disappear in the running game, and it kind of offends me that that comment was made,” Pees said. “What we did disappear in is the intensity. It was the difference in that game and the other two games — turnovers. When you play intense and you are really flying around 100 miles per hour, you create turnovers. We didn’t create turnovers. We did not create those kinds of opportunities that we created in the other two games.”

On Sunday, there should be no excuse for the intensity to be lacking with the Steelers coming to M&T Bank Stadium, a place where they haven’t won since 2012. The Ravens will even be wearing their alternate black jerseys, a popular look with both players and fans.

But there’s a sleeping giant looming if the Ravens aren’t ready. Despite possessing some of the best skill-position talent in the NFL as well as a well-regarded offensive line, the Steelers have struggled offensively, ranking just 22nd in total offense and tied for 16th in points per game. After holding out during the preseason, Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry so far and has yet to accumulate 100 yards of offense in any of his first three games.

The lone bright spot of the offense has been All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, who has twice as many receptions (26) as Baltimore wide receivers combined (13). The memory of him stretching across the goal line to eliminate the Ravens from postseason contention last Christmas Day should provide more than enough motivation to want to keep him in check, but that’s still easier said than done.

Longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has accepted the blame this week, saying Pittsburgh’s offensive struggles can be traced back to his own play. That’s an admirable stance from a team leader, but it’s one the Ravens aren’t buying for a minute.

“He is setting us up. Tell Ben I am on to his tricks,” said Suggs, who has sacked Roethlisberger more times than any other player. “I know what he is doing. I am not going to let him fool me with trickery and Jedi mind tricks.”

After enduring one of the worst losses in franchise history last week, the Ravens better have their minds right if they want to make good on their promise and keep the giant snoozing for another week.

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following 44-7 loss to Jacksonville

Posted on 26 September 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens matching the team record for biggest margin of defeat in a 44-7 loss to Jacksonville in London, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. We always try to determine blame after any loss, but you’ll rarely find a performance with such universal guilt to go around as Sunday’s. Even a couple days later, the stench remains overwhelming, but the Ravens can take solace in knowing it only counts as one loss in the standings.

2. It’s difficult finding reasons to be optimistic about an offensive line that started a former sixth-round pick and three former undrafted free agents against the Jaguars. You hope left tackle Ronnie Stanley becomes the group’s anchor, but the absence of Marshal Yanda was as nightmarish as feared.

3. The Ravens defense showed no ability to create pressure with a four-man rush, meaning defensive coordinator Dean Pees needs to be much more creative with stunts and blitzes. The loss of defensive end Brent Urban will hurt the inside pass rush in sub packages, too.

4. Yes, the offensive line is a major problem, but Joe Flacco is showing the same flaws with poor footwork, anticipating pressure even when he has the time and space, and not pushing the ball down the field. Everything about this offense needs to be better, and that includes the quarterback.

5. Ravens wide receivers have combined for 13 catches this season. There are currently 35 players in the NFL with more. Relative to other position groups, the trio of Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, and Breshad Perriman should be an offensive strength, so there’s no excuse for such anemic production.

6. The fruits of Greg Roman’s work at least showed in the first two weeks, but I’m still waiting for a sign that the Ravens made the right call sticking with Marty Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The passing game largely remains a mess with no downfield push.

7. Jimmy Smith played well and a couple others had their moments, but the defense sure looked like it was believing its hype before making Blake Bortles look like Ben Roethlisberger. Given the resources used, this defense must be special for Baltimore to win, but that’s still easier said than done.

8. I’m hesitant to read too much into garbage time, but Alex Collins looked the part for the second straight week and runs with urgency. That should have Terrance West and Buck Allen looking over their shoulders in a muddled offensive backfield.

9. I laughed at the outrage expressed by some over Jacksonville’s fake punt with a 37-point lead. I do find it unwise to burn a gadget play in a blowout, but John Harbaugh and the Ravens have done that same thing multiple times on the winning end of past lopsided affairs.

10. It’s a shame Jermaine Eluemunor’s debut in his native country didn’t come with a better result. His first activation was fueled by last week’s season-ending injury to Yanda, but that’s still a pretty amazing story for a London native to play his first NFL game at Wembley Stadium.

11. Those expecting a victory in Week 3 were reminded how volatile this league is — and how underwhelming the Ravens have been on the road in recent years — but I feel for the thousands who made the trip. Losing happens, but they deserved better than an uncompetitive showing.

12. We’ll see whether Baltimore was wise to request not having its bye after the London trip. How the Ravens fare at home against Pittsburgh and at Oakland could go a long way in determining if they’re serious contenders or pretenders who feasted on two bad teams the first two weeks.

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Ravens-Jaguars: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 24 September 2017 by Luke Jones

LONDON — For the first time in the 22-year history of the franchise, the Ravens are playing a game outside the United States as they take on Jacksonville at Wembley Stadium in London.

Having arrived Friday morning, Baltimore aims to start 3-0 for the second year in a row and just the third time in the John Harbaugh era. The Jaguars are playing in London for the fifth straight year, giving them the experience edge in adjusting to the five-hour time change and playing in the iconic venue. However, the number of Baltimore fans witnessed on the streets of London compared to Jacksonville fans this week could give the Ravens a home-field feel at Wembley.

The biggest surprise on the list of inactives was offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom, who filled in for the injured Marshal Yanda in the second half of last Sunday’s game. Recently promoted from the practice squad, Matt Skura was lining up as the starting right guard during pre-game warmups and did start all four preseason games last month.

Rookie offensive lineman and London native Jermaine Eluemunor is also active for the first time this season.

The Ravens will be without their anchor on the defensive line after Brandon Williams (foot) was already ruled out on Friday. Third-year defensive tackle Carl Davis will start in his place in the base defense, but second-year defensive lineman Willie Henry is also active for the first time this season.

Despite missing practices in Owings Mills on Wednesday and Thursday, running back Terrance West (calf) is active and will play. He received just two carries in the second half of the 24-10 win over Cleveland as Buck Allen and Alex Collins handled the workload in the backfield.

Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (knee/ankle) is also active and will return to action for the first time since the season opener. He was a full participant in practice all week and was moving around well during a pre-game workout.

There were no surprises among the Jacksonville inactives as both left tackle Cam Robinson (shoulder) and cornerback Jalen Ramsey (ankle) were activated despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report.

Sunday’s referee is Pete Morelli.

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast in London calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures reaching 70 degrees with winds up to 10 miles per hour and no chance of precipitation.

The Ravens are wearing white jerseys with black pants while the Jaguars don black tops with black pants for Week 3.

Sunday marks the 21st all-time meeting between these former AFC Central rivals with Jacksonville holding an 11-9 advantage. However, the Ravens are 9-3 against the Jaguars since the start of the 2000 season and won last year’s Week 3 meeting between the teams in Jacksonville.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
OL Tony Bergstrom
DE Chris Wormley
DE Bronson Kaufusi
DT Brandon Williams
CB Jaylen Hill
OT Diegot Joseph
TE Maxx Williams

JACKSONVILLE
QB Ryan Nassib
RB T.J. Yeldon
LB Lerentee McCray
OL William Poehls
OL Josh Walker
CB Jalen Myrick
WR Jaelen Strong

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Ravens-Jaguars: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 23 September 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens face a familiar opponent in unfamiliar territory on Sunday.

Playing Jacksonville for the fourth consecutive season, Baltimore will play its first ever game in London at the famous Wembley Stadium. The Ravens seek their third 3-0 start of the John Harbaugh era while the Jaguars try to rebound from an embarrassing home loss to Tennessee.

Of course, poor health continues to be a major part of the story for the Ravens as a staggering 15 players have already been placed on injured reserve — along with practice-squad member Jeremy Langford — and four additional players have already been ruled out for Week 3.

It’s time to go on the record as Baltimore seeks its second consecutive win over the Jaguars, who still lead the all-time series with an 11-9 mark that largely stems from the days of the old AFC Central. The Ravens have won nine of the last 12 meetings dating back to the 2000 season.

Below are five predictions for Sunday:

1. Even without Brandon Williams, Baltimore will hold Leonard Fournette to less than 3.5 yards per carry. The Jaguars rank ninth in the NFL in rushing yards per game while the Ravens defense has been leakier against the run than you’d expect at 4.0 yards per carry allowed. There was plenty of debate in the offseason about whether giving Williams a lucrative deal was the best use of cap resources when you considered the young depth on the defensive line that includes nose tackle Michael Pierce. We’ll find out how that group looks against a rookie running back with exceptional talent.

2. Mike Wallace and Allen Hurns will catch touchdown passes for their respective teams. The Baltimore receiver was sure to emphasize that he wants to win more than anything when he talked about wanting the ball more this week, but offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg does need to get the downfield passing game going. Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey is dealing with an ankle injury, which should leave his secondary vulnerable to a big play. Meanwhile, Hurns has been forced to pick up the slack for the injured Allen Robinson, and the Ravens have given up some yards through the air so far.

3. The Ravens will finish with under 100 rushing yards in their first full game without Marshal Yanda. Only Denver recorded more carries than the Ravens over the first two weeks of the season and the Jaguars have given up 136.0 yards per game on the ground, but the loss of a six-time Pro Bowl guard will impact any team’s ability in the trenches. Harbaugh has expressed confidence in new right guard Tony Bergstrom, but he struggled last week and will have his hands full with defensive tackle Malik Jackson. It also doesn’t help that starting running back Terrance West is dealing with a calf issue.

4. Tony Jefferson will record his first interception for one of two Ravens’ takeaways on the day. It’s incredible to think Baltimore has already surpassed its interception total from the entire 2015 season, but Jefferson is the lone member of the starting secondary not to grab one thus far, which has earned him plenty of ribbing from defensive teammates. The Jaguars will do everything they can to keep the game out of the hands of maligned quarterback Blake Bortles, but he’s thrown 53 interceptions in 48 career games and will be picked off by Jefferson at a critical moment of a low-scoring game.

5. Justin Tucker will shine in a grind-it-out 16-13 victory for Baltimore. The Jaguars’ experience playing overseas and the need to adjust to the five-hour time change are legitimate concerns for the Ravens, who were 2-6 on the road last season and haven’t played well away from M&T Bank Stadium for years now. It won’t be a pretty performance, but Tucker will hit a field goal from beyond 50 yards and add two more to put on a good show for the soccer faithful in London. With Pittsburgh and Oakland looming in the next two weeks, the Ravens would very much like to win this one.

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Join us Saturday in London as Ravens fans march and sail over River Thames with WNST

Posted on 18 September 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

Are you headed to London to see the Baltimore Ravens play the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium this week? Well, please make a plan to join us over in the U.K. for our only organized legendary “Purple Pep Rally” of the week on Saturday, Sept. 23rd from 11 a.m. until 2:52 p.m. at the Fox@ExCel Pub near the Royal Victoria stop on the DLR Tube line. It’s in the Dockland area of East London near the water.

We’ll have plenty of food and drinks available – including legendary fish and chips and pints of ale!

At 2:52 p.m. we’ll march the two blocks to the Emirates Air Cable Car ride and ride over the River Thames on a spectacular journey to the O2 Arena – high above London with the greatest views imaginable!

Watch here:

 

We’re hoping to take a super-sized purple group photo at the entrance to the O2 Arena sometime around 4 p.m.

All Ravens fans and traveling NFL fans are welcome to join us. It’s all free and come as you are and pay as you go…

Toss me an email if you need more information: nasty@wnst.net

 

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Ravens being considered to play in London next season

Posted on 29 November 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens may have an especially long road trip in 2017.

The NFL has informed the organization that it’s being considered for a game in London next season. The Ravens have never played a game outside of the United States, but owner Steve Bisciotti has embraced the possibility of going to London for one of his team’s road games.

Next season, the Ravens are set to play Jacksonville, who has an agreement in place to play one home game per season at Wembley Stadium through 2020. As part of their agreement with the Maryland Stadium Authority, the Ravens are not allowed to play any “home” games away from M&T Bank Stadium.

Only seven other teams have yet to participate in the International Series since it was introduced in 2007: Arizona, Carolina, Cleveland, Green Bay, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Tennessee.

The league has yet to announce its slate of international games for 2017, but the dates and teams for the three London games played this season were announced last November.

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Dom Cosentino talks the NFL popularity in London

Posted on 05 October 2015 by WNST Staff

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