No video replay needed – Roger Goodell and NBC moved the season opener out of Baltimore today

March 22, 2013 | Drew Forrester

I love how everything turned on a dime sometime Friday afternoon when it was revealed the Orioles were willing to move their September 5th start time to help accomodate the Ravens’ home opener later that night.

All week long, people barked loud and long about how the baseball team had no business “blocking” the Ravens and the city of Baltimore from their rightful opening night celebration.

Today we learned the Orioles were willing to move their Thursday game time to help make the football opener a reality.  That it couldn’t be pulled off isn’t a shock.  Anyone who saw the nearly uncontrollable chaos that surrounded the Super Bowl parade on February 6th knows for sure trying to cram 300,000 or more people into downtown Baltimore just doesn’t work.

Having a downtown Baltimore “work day”, plus an afternoon baseball game, followed by a football game that night — no way that ends happily.

Today, though, we found out the truth.  Actually, I wrote the “truth” earlier this week and it turned out – gasp! – that I was right.

The Ravens are opening on the road on Thursday, September 5th for one reason:  Because the NFL and NBC refused to budge in their game of “we have to make as much money as we possibly can, even if it’s unfair to the Super Bowl Champion.”

So, that’s it.

The Ravens will travel somewhere, presumably Denver, for a season opening ass kicking that most likely will bring a wry smile from Roger Goodell.  He clearly never wanted Baltimore to have the opener at M&T Bank Stadium and with the help of NBC, he gets his wish.

Interestingly enough, not long after Goodell’s theme of “we don’t play on Rosh Hashanah” was debunked, the next “issue” was about TV ratings and NBC’s supposed (not confirmed by anyone, just assumed) wish to have the Thursday Night opener actually take place on Thursday night.

Last year, you’ll remember, NBC was so self-obligated to pushing the Thursday night opener on the country that they urged the NFL to move the game to WEDNESDAY night because of the Democratic National Convention.

That’s right — last year, because of “unique circumstances”, NBC was A-OK with moving the Thursday night game to Wednesday.  When it helped THEM, the fine folks at NBC were thrilled to air the opener on Wednesday.  The ratings for the Wednesday broadcast were down from the previous year’s Thursday night opener.  18 million folks watched the 2011 opener (Thursday) compared to 14 million in 2012.  So, they lost four million viewers for some reason…mostly due, it would appear, to NBC making the decision to move the game based on those special circumstances.

Now, though, when the NFL has a “unique circumstance”, someone – probably both the league and NBC – isn’t willing to give-in and move the 2013 Thursday opener to Wednesday.

And Baltimore loses out.

You’ll hear some people, who obviously aren’t paying attention very well, say or write stuff like this:  “What you have to understand is that the NFL is the biggest sports league in America.  If they want the game to be played on a Thursday, you either play it on Thursday or you lose out.”  Then, in the next sentence, they’ll say, “And they have a contract with NBC that says the opening game must take place on a Thursday night.  They’re not moving to Wednesday under any circumstance.”


Except when “any circumstance” is something NBC brings to the table.  Then the contract with the NFL is evidently flexible.

(Please see next page) 

8 Comments For This Post

  1. joe of bel air Says:

    Well said Drew.

  2. Vince Fiduccia Says:

    Thanks Drew for your fair and balanced reporting.

  3. unitastoberry Says:

    I don’t know why the NFL could have had us play on Sunday in Baltimore and some Brady vs Manning or league darling matchup on Thursday night? The Ravens are not well loved west of Frederick,north of Hanover PA,and south of Glen Burnie. Ratings for a league darling matchup on Thursday night would have been bigger for the network. Guess thats above my paygrade.

  4. The Armchair QB Says:

    Hypocrisy and greed – the NFL is guilty on both counts! Thanks for the “fair and balanced” reporting, Drew! It bears repeating that, “Whom the Gods would destroy, they first make drunk with power”! Unfortunately, the only losers in this fiasco are Baltimore and it’s fans; both deserve better from Goodell and his merry band of……bandits!

  5. Justafan Says:

    So, the Ravens will not play it’s home opener on Thursday, Sept 5. So What! The Ravens will still play 8 home games and 8 road games regardless of the day of the week. Personally, I am not a fan of Sunday, Monday, or Thursday night football. Football was meant to be played on Saturday afternoons for the colleges and Sunday afternoons for the Pro’s. I would not mind it at all if these “prime time” games were discontinued.

  6. PghSteve Says:

    Justafan, I agree 100% Those night games, which seem to always drag on until close to midnight, make the next day (usually a workday) a real challenge. It will never happen, but go back to Sundays only, maybe some Saturday games after the college season is over.

  7. charlie Says:

    great work, drew. i realize people here hate angelos — fair enough. but in all the love for the ravens (me included) have people forgotten how the nfl treated baltimore for 13 years? all of a sudden, the nfl is run by people who are caring, selfless, and simply want the best for charm city? tell it to paul tagliabue’s successor, i’m not buying.

  8. Jason Manelli Says:

    This sucks so hard for the Ravens fans, especially the season ticket holders who are coughing up their money at the moment to pay for the 2 stupid and useless preseason games and all of the other home contests that won’t include the special league opener. When you buy in and support the team through thick and thin, you expect that to the victor would go the spoils and that you’ll get the perk of attending a ‘victory party’ at the stadium in your seats.

    The NFL and Goodell should kick off the 2013 season with a pre-recorded Mea Culpa to the best football fans on the planet, the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland for their inability to schedule a home opener for the Super Bowl champs. Truly, this was Goodell’s ‘Go Build a Museum, Baltimore’ moment. This could have been solved so many ways, in my business things go wrong and conflict every day, and we find ways to adapt and make things work. You can’t tell me that all the geniuses at the league office put their thinking caps on and couldn’t make this work. We just weren’t important enough for Goodell to really try and solve this. If it were NY, Boston, or any other city with a larger MSA, this would never, ever go down this way. Face ti fellow fans, the League hates us because we are small and successful, and unlike Green Bay our city doesn’t have a lilly white image. Yes, racism played a role in this decision. A black GM, a black city and now a black out from the first home game.

    I also blame the Baltimore media (present company excluded) for not seeing through the NFL’s spin once this story leaked. Why didn’t the Sun or one of the local TV stations news departments think to look at the NFL schedule and compare it to the Baltimore O’s schedule to suss out a conflict prior to the league spinning its web of BS? I certainly didn’t think to check the schedules, but I’m not a full time beat writer like Aaron Wilson or Mike Preston.

    A pox on all houses. I hope we win another Super Bowl next season just to put it in the league’s eye. The artifice of ‘fair competition’ is now completely gone, revealing Goodell to be nothing more than the fairy godmother of the leagues all consuming need for maximum revenue.

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