Dear Steve, Dick and the rest of the Ravens organization:
Please consider this as a follow-up note to something I wrote about last December when you all announced that training camp was being relocated from Westminster to Owings Mills for 2012.
You guys took a lot of grief from the fans – and some media members – for that decision, although I can proudly say I was one of the folks who implored everyone to exercise some patience and wait and see how the Ravens handled everything before making a full judgement.
I predicted, quite quickly after your decision was announced, that the Ravens would go above and beyond the call-of-duty to make sure the fans were “taken care of”. I suggested that fans simply wait and see what plans were made for the summer of 2012 and that my guess was they wouldn’t be disappointed. I just happen to have a copy of that piece I wrote, in fact. You can read it HERE.
As you can see, my prediction was right.
Once again, you all came through.
I was out at Owings Mills last week to witness first-hand how the 250 fans who were “invited guests” were treated. I watched them interact with the players afterwards and I saw the smiling faces of both parties. I even took a picture for a family of four from Annapolis out in front of The Castle. I asked them how their day went and 11-year old Amanda said, “Joe Flacco said ‘I like your braces!’ to me!!”.
That Flacco, what a touch, huh? By the way…if I haven’t told you this, I will now. That kid is a helluva quarterback and a terrific representative of your franchise. I’d go on to tell you to pay him and keep him here long-term, but I know you’re already trying to do that.
Anyway, back to training camp.
I was impressed with what I saw at Owings Mills, but the real litmus test for those promises you made would come on Saturday at the first of the three open practices.
Let me first say this: I completely understand how much of a pain in the ass it is to move camp to the big stadium for one day. Most fans (and even some media members) don’t really see how difficult that was to manufacture on Saturday, but I do.
As is usually the case with the Ravens, you all pulled it off like a road win in Cleveland. With ease.
The practice moved along smoothly and the fans were always aware of the drill that was taking place on the field. No one was bored. If watching practice can be considered exciting – and to the 20,000 who were there, it was – then Saturday’s event delivered the goods for everyone.
I watched all of the players make their way around the bowl of the stadium and sign autographs. I’m sure everyone who wanted one didn’t succeed because of the sheer volume of people, but I’ll tell you what I didn’t see. I didn’t see one player sign for 25 people and then casually stroll down the steps and off the field. And I stood there and watched, trust me. Every guy signed hundreds of autographs. And then some.
So, congratulations on following through on your promise to keep the fans involved as best as you possibly can.
You won’t get many of these letters, because folks are always quick to bash you but slow to say “Well Done!”.
I’m here to say “Well Done!”
Best wishes for a successful 2012.
P.S. I won’t be this nice to you guys if you lose to the Steelers this season.