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Chapter 2: High Standards, Low Profile of Steve Bisciotti

Posted on 13 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

 

“Steve (Bisciotti) is straightforward and that makes it easy. He’s not a prima donna. He’s direct. He’s upfront. If there’s something he doesn’t like, he tells you. If he feels strongly about something, he tells you. There’s no secret agenda. There’s nothing you have to discover. Steve is a great believer in direct communication and he runs the business that way.”

— Baltimore Ravens President Dick Cass (March 2013)

 

IN MANY CITIES IN AMERICA the owners of sports franchises can still somehow stay or hide in the shadow of their local investment and create nary a stir when they enter a room. Being anonymous has its privileges and benefits, a thought Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti would certainly echo. But in Baltimore, where the owners of the local professional teams have been true newsmakers and iconoclasts for the better part of a half a century, owning the NFL franchise that a community treats like family or a personal treasure can be like carrying the collective weight of the civic mood on your shoulders.

Bisciotti did his best to remain a private citizen after taking over the Ravens from Arthur B. Modell in early 2004, but you can’t be invested in the most significant sports soap opera in the community and stand at the top of the pyramid making the most important decisions for the fan base without becoming a public figure of the highest order.

If you are a sports fan from Baltimore, Maryland, you have endured your fair share of abuse. In the 1970’s, the Baltimore Bullets were dragged down I-95 to the Washington suburbs by owner Abe Pollin, professional hockey went into hibernation with the Clippers and there were strong whispers of the Orioles going to D.C. to replace the departed Washington Senators. It got no better in the 1980’s. There was always the ominous and omnipresent shadow of Robert Irsay, the man who acquired the Baltimore Colts from Carroll Rosenbloom in a swap for the Los Angeles Rams in 1972 and later moved them to Indianapolis in a convoy of Mayflower moving trucks in the middle of a snowy, teary night for the Charm City on March 28, 1984 after a decade of tyranny and threats to the community of the inevitable move.

Since the turn of the century, both the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Orioles fan bases’ have been tormented and tortured by disastrous moves on the field and big moves downward in the standings since the involvement of Daniel Snyder and Peter G. Angelos have fallen upon the I-95 corridor. These two have shined a bright light on what can go wrong when poor decisions are consistently being made from the top of the organization and how quickly decades of support for enduring brands can erode and deteriorate when fans and customers smell the stench of poor ownership.

The reality in the 21st century is that with the scarcity of teams available and the cost of buying a sports franchise for hundreds of millions of dollars, no one wants to pony up the kind of money to be an owner without having a strong desire to be heavily involved in strategy and a strong desire to win – whether it’s on the field or at the cash register. Many of these thrill seekers have lacked proper training, background and the feel for sports ownership especially with such a public light illuminating every decision that is made in real time on the internet. What sounds like fun in the beginning becomes an albatross and a public nuisance once it becomes apparent how specialized each league, sport and business is from an ownership standpoint.

It was no secret that Art Modell was struggling financially in Cleveland and those ghosts of burgeoning debt followed him east to Baltimore in 1996. By 1999, the NFL and his debtors with the banks demanded that he find a partner to buy the team and help him find the exit door with the class and dignity that his departure from Cleveland clearly lacked.

The same man who found Modell in Cleveland and brokered the deal for the State of Maryland and the City of Baltimore in the Fall of 1995 was the same man who found a buyer four years later: local attorney and sports franchise expert John Moag. After Modell made the move to Baltimore, Moag became a trusted confidant and had all of the institutional knowledge that would be necessary to assist in finding a new owner for the Baltimore Ravens.

Moag knew Bisciotti and was privy to most of Modell’s financial struggles. The rest is history.

By any account, Steve Bisciotti is a sports nut. He’s long been a fiercely loyal University of Maryland supporter, close confidant of legendary Terps basketball head coach Gary Williams and a Ravens and Orioles season ticket holder at the time. At worst, he would’ve been a very educated sports radio talk show caller before he got involved in the purchase the Baltimore Ravens in 1999.

Bisciotti, born April 10, 1960 in Philadelphia, came to the Severna Park area of Anne Arundel County in 1961 when Bernard and Patricia Bisciotti moved from Philadelphia for Bernard’s new sales executive job. He was 8 years old when the Colts lost Super Bowl III to Joe Namath and the New York Jets. He was a huge Paul Blair fan during the heyday of the Earl Weaver-led Orioles in his adolescence. He journeyed with his friends up Richie Highway to Memorial Stadium in the 1970’s and loved the Bert Jones-era of the “Shake and Bake” Colts.

Bisciotti’s father died of leukemia when he was in elementary school leaving his sports-crazed widowed mother, who raised him by preaching faith, hard work, determination and manners. Nicknamed “Shots” by his college pals at Salisbury State, where he earned a Liberal Arts degree, Bisciotti became obsessed with making enough money by the age of 35 so that his wife and kids wouldn’t have to work if his father’s fate befell him. He had the early jobs of a kid who worked hard and learned the world: pumping gas, mowing lawns, and building piers in Anne Arundel County, where he graduated from Severna Park High School. He founded a staffing firm called Aerotek in his basement with $3,500 of seed money at age 23 during the Colts final season in Baltimore. He now owns a massive stake in Allegis

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Ravens announce two open Training Camp practices

Posted on 11 June 2014 by WNST Staff

2014 RAVENS TRAINING CAMP PRACTICES

The Baltimore Ravens’ 2014 training camp, will feature free individual stadium practices for the third-consecutive year at M&T Bank Stadium and Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Additionally, by entering a lottery on the Ravens’ official website, fans in limited numbers will have an opportunity to win free tickets to training camp practices held at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills.

The M&T Bank Stadium practice will showcase the Ravens’ first-ever Fireworks Night on Monday, July 28, an event highlighted by post-practice autographs for children and a fireworks/laser show. The Ravens’ practice at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium will take place on Monday, Aug. 4 and feature a youth football clinic on the field prior to practice. There will also be an autograph session for children following practice.

Practices for both of these venues are free and open to the public and will have interactive fan events, including the player autograph signings for children, fun-filled activities designed specifically for younger fans, giveaways and cheerleader/mascot meet-and-greets. (Further details for both events are below.)

 

FAN LOTTERY FOR TRAINING CAMP PRACTICES

The Ravens can safely host up to 300 people on the fields of their Owings Mills training complex, and fans who are randomly chosen through the online drawing will be invited to view one of the team’s 12 open training camp sessions at the Under Armour Performance Center. The first full-team training camp practice is July 24, and the last is Aug. 14.

Beginning Thursday, June 12 at 10 a.m., fans may enter a lottery at http://www.baltimoreravens.com/trainingcamp to attend one training camp practice at the Under Armour Performance Center. All lottery submissions must be made by Tuesday, July 1 at 5 p.m., and the Ravens will contact fans who are chosen for these practices no later than Sunday, July 13. Details – including parking, practice day/time and procedures – will be communicated to winning recipients upon notification.  

 

STADIUM TRAINING CAMP FAMILY PRACTICES 

Event:                                   Fireworks Night at M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore, MD) – Free and Open to the Public

When:                                  Monday, July 28

Practice Start Time:        7 p.m.

Gates Open:                      5:30 p.m.

Parking:                               Stadium lots open at 4 p.m. and are available for cold tailgating. The parking fee is $10.                

Details:                                Highlighted by a post-practice player autograph session for children and afireworks/laser show, the Fireworks Night practice will also feature entertainment that includes Baltimore’s Marching Ravens, cheerleaders, official mascot Poe and live mascots Rise and Conquer. The Ravens Team Store and concession stands will also be open.

 

Event:                                   Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Practice (Annapolis, MD) – Free and Open to the Public

When:                                  Monday, Aug. 4

Practice Start Time:        7 p.m.

Gates Open:                      5:30 p.m.

Parking:                               Lots open at 4 p.m. and are available for cold tailgating.

  • ·     $10 for cars and $25 for buses
  • ·     Parking may be purchased via www.navysports.com
  • ·     If Navy lots become full, nearby off-site locations are available with stadium shuttles.

Details:                                Baltimore’s Marching Ravens, cheerleaders, official mascot Poe and live mascots Rise and Conquer will be in attendance. The Ravens Team Store will be on site, and concession stands will be open. Prior to practice, the Ravens will host a RISE youth football clinic on the field featuring area players and teams. (More information about clinic registration, which begins June 23, will be shared at a later date.)

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Early Injuries Shuffle the Ravens Offensive Line in Camp

Posted on 26 July 2013 by WNST Staff

Day 2 of Ravens Training Camp held some big storylines, especially concerning the Offensive Line. The team’s Super Bowl run in 2012 was predicated on the blocking emergence of a unit that was shuffled all season long. With Bryant McKinnie reinserted into that core, Baltimore seemed to find the best fit for its five lineman; as Kelechi Osemele moved to Guard and Michael Oher transitioned back to RT.

The team already had concerns at Center, with the retirement of Matt Birk, but it was expected Gino Gradkowski would be handed the starting job. Though, with the acquisition of former Colt, A.Q. Shipley, the competition seems to be in full swing. Both split time throughout drills on Friday, yet Shipley was in place with the first team for most of the 11-on-11 portion of practice. Shipley also saw some time next to Gradkowski, filling in at Guard. You can hear Gradkowski’s thoughts on the competition here, in a interview with Glenn Clark, on the Reality Check, after Friday’s practice.

The key concern for the next couple weeks will be the health of both starting Guards, Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele. Yanda was placed on the PUP list, but passed his physical on Friday, making a return in the upcoming days likely. On the other side, Osemele was held out of Thursday’s 2nd practice and was a no-show on Friday, with concerns of a hamstring injury.

In the place of the those two standouts, were several combinations of players varying in experience. Jah Reid took the most snaps at LG (Osemele’s position) with the first team, while RG was a mixed bag of former practice squad players and rookies. Ryan Jensen, a 6th round pick out of Colorado State-Pueblo, initially spent time with the first team, until he was shook up with a leg “tweak,” during running game drills. As mentioned before, A.Q. Shipley filled in at one point, but Ramon Harewood covered the position, while Shipley played Center. Jack Cornell and Antoine McClain also rotated in that spot at points during practice.

It may not be an actual injury, but there still has to be concern at the LT position as well. Though Bryant McKinnie was cleared to practice on Friday, after being sat down Thursday for “conditioning issues,” he did not see much time on the field. He was involved in all position drills, but was held out in most the team exercises (7-on-7, 11-on-11, Two Minute). Rookie fifth round pick, Ricky Wagner (from Wisconsin), settled in with the first team, while McKinnie was on the sidelines. He performed admirably against Elvis Dumervil, but did struggle against the former Defensive Player of the Year, Terrell Suggs.

The key acquisition for the line may be having Offensive Assistant, Juan Castillo, around for an entire season. He not only brought an intensity to practice, but was pulling players aside between plays. Castillo was recognized as one of the best Offensive Line coaches in the league, while in Philadelphia (before his failed experiment calling defensive plays), where he utilized big men in the trenches to control the defensive front 7. He has plenty of size on this roster to play with and can be a real asset in developing some of the younger players on the team.

By the end of practice, the first team Offensive Line looked as follows: LT-Wagner, LG-Reid, C-Shipley, RG-Harewood, RT-Oher. That is vastly different than last season’s Super Bowl winners and the expectation for the starters, come Week 1.

Side Notes:

The defensive rookie class of Matt Elam, Arthur Brown and Brandon Williams all worked with the second team, even though there is high expectations for that trio.

Chykie Brown worked in with the first team, essentially holding down Lardarius Webb’s spot until he is ready to participate in practice.

Torrey Smith had to leave the field at one point, during 7-on-7 drills, with an apparent lower leg/ankle/foot injury. He did have a noticeable limp for the rest of practice, but continued to participate, until the end.

The defensive line showed some versatility, during Two-Minute drills, where OLB Courtney Upshaw and DE Pernell McPhee lined up inside at the DT spots; Dumervil and Suggs held down the DE positions, in that alignment.

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Purple Reign 2: Flacco & Bisciotti met, talked Super Bowls & millions last August

Posted on 30 May 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

This is an excerpt from a new, 480-page book on the Baltimore Ravens championship run called Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story. If you enjoyed every aspect of their Super Bowl win in New Orleans, you’ll love this book that chronicles how the team overcame adversity and personal tragedies, and used theology sprinkled with faith, family and love on the way to a Baltimore parade fueled by inspiration, dedication, perspiration and yes, a little bit of luck.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 15 of the definitive book on the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII victory in New Orleans, Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story.

If you enjoy it, please consider buying the books for the holidays as gifts for anyone who loves the Baltimore Ravens.

You can purchase both Purple Reign books by clicking here:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 9 here where Joe Flacco and Steve Bisciotti talk about the risk of $100 million:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 15 on the firing of Cam Cameron and its impact on Joe Flacco

This is from Chapter 9, “Injury after insult after implosion – Psychology 2012.” If you enjoy this small snippet you can purchase the book and read another excerpt here. You can also join the Facebook fan page here. The book will be released on May 31st and will be delivered before Father’s Day if purchase before June 5th.

 

AS THE TEAM WAS ASSEMBLED in the preseason, questions lingered, but Harbaugh felt great that the team had survived an offseason without arrests, without incidents, without any member of a veteran team blaming Evans or Cundiff for the New England loss. He inherited a fractured team in 2008, and by the summer of 2012 he was feeling good about the unity of the players and their maturity.

But the obvious questions for fans, media, and The Castle staff were all the same:

Is this the last chance for Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Matt Birk?

Will the offensive line hold up?

Can the Ravens win the big one?

Can Joe Flacco win the big one?

As Bisciotti knew on draft day in 2008, and as Newsome, Harbaugh, and everyone else in the organization had experienced the hard way — it always comes back to the quarterback. Was Joe Flacco going to be the franchise quarterback who would win a Super Bowl for the Baltimore Ravens?

Flacco, who played perhaps the best game of his career and threw what would’ve been the pass that took the Ravens to the Super Bowl on his last drive in January, somehow went into the 2012 season as the man on the hot seat who had not only turned down a $90 million offer for more than six months, but who had gone on WNST.net & AM 1570 in April and said he thought he was the best quarterback in the NFL. As much as Tim Tebow was the darling of ESPN with a seemingly non-stop Jets theme on SportsCenter, Flacco became something of a punch line for a quarterback who could get a team to the playoffs, but somehow was perceived as “not Super Bowl caliber.”

Short of catching his own pass in Foxborough, he literally had done everything he could do to get his team into the Super Bowl and yet the abuse was seemingly endless.

But the game is won on the X’s and O’s and the execution, and Flacco knew this. Cameron and Flacco had talked about more passing, more shotgun formations, and more pressure on defenses, but over the summer of 2012 it became clear the Ravens would become more of a personalized offense for No. 5. If the Ravens were offering Flacco $90 million dollars, they’d need to trust him to earn that money. He loved the tempo of the no-huddle offense and loved that it allowed him to dictate to the defense both personnel and pace.

“What quarterback wouldn’t want to run the no-huddle or fast-paced offense?” Flacco said. “Let’s be honest, it’s more fun to play quarterback when you do that. We like the pace we’re running on offense right now, but it’s a work in progress. We’ve done OK, and we’ve played pretty quick. But, we know we can play better, and we will play faster as we get into it more.”

Harbaugh endorsed this ideological move from being a team that always allowed its defense to cut loose while always seeming to fear the worst from the offense — trying to utilize the clock, run the ball, and be more conservative. “We’ve talked about the no-huddle [offense] since Joe’s [Flacco] rookie season,” Harbaugh said. “He ran it at Delaware and has had success in it when we’ve run it the last few years. He is a key to running it, and he loves it. And, we have the parts for it right now, including the offensive line. We can run the offense very fast, a little fast, slower, and we can huddle. We’re in a good spot right now with how we can run our offense.”

While some of the idiot sports talking heads and media types were constantly flogging Flacco, the people who watch coaches’ film were always impressed with him, using the evidence and residue of four straight playoff appearances and his improving game to shout down the detractors.

“We’ve spent time with Joe [Flacco], and I perceive a change in him,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who saw Flacco play at Audubon High in his hometown of Philadelphia. “He’s won since Day One with the Ravens, but he’s more confident now. They’re confident in him, too, and the improved offense reflects all of that. He can make every throw. He can bring his team from behind. The question becomes, ‘Can they win a Super Bowl with Joe?’ And the answer is an emphatic, ‘Yes!’”

Mike Lombardi, who was doing NFL analysis in the summer of 2012 before becoming the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, said “That anyone spent the offseason criticizing [Joe] Flacco strikes me as ludicrous. Flacco didn’t drop the ball in the end zone against the Patriots. In fact, it was Flacco who drove the Ravens to give them two chances to win that game. It was others who didn’t make plays. While he doesn’t play in an offense that shows off his skills statistically, Flacco is a winning QB, and his record [45-21] shows it.”

ESPN’s Ron Jaworski spoke out on Flacco’s arm strength and ability to attack opposing defenses. “Arm strength – that’s Flacco’s No. 1 attribute,” Jaws said. “I get so tired of hearing how arm strength is overrated. It’s far more important than people think. He has the strongest arm in the NFL. And he has an aggressive, confident throwing mentality. The element always overlooked by those who minimize arm strength is the willingness of quarterbacks like Flacco to pull the trigger. Few recognize that because there is no quantifiable means by which to evaluate throws that are not made by quarterbacks with lesser arm strength. It’s all about dimensions. Flacco gives you the ability to attack all areas of the field at any point in the game.”

Flacco took the responsibility as a personal challenge and something he embraced.

“It’s definitely my offense as a quarterback; it’s my job to get out there and lead these guys and direct them and run the traffic, and get it run the way that I want it to be run,” he said in training camp. “Cam may be running the plays, and I may be controlling certain things on the line depending on what the play is, but the fine details of being a good offense are all of the fine details. And it’s my job to get those correct and that we have everyone on the same page. As long as I’m out there in practice getting it to the games and on game day, as long as I’m doing that and expressing to the receivers, expressing to the running back, and to the offensive line how I feel, and what I see back there and as long as we can get on the same page as that together, then that’s when we’re doing something, and that’s when I’m doing my job.

“You talk about being paid that much money, they don’t do that so that they can go out there to do every job, they do that so they can delegate some jobs onto me. And I can go out there and get it done the way it should be. That’s a big part of being a quarterback. To be able to make sure that everything is running smoothly and everybody sees it the way I see it. And that once we get there on Sunday, we can just react and play. Because we’re all up to speed and we all have the same vision of everything. I think that’s what good quarterbacks are able to do, is to take that and then take a certain play and make it great, just because everyone has a good understanding of that.”

By the beginning of training camp it was very clear that the Ravens and Flacco were at an impasse in negotiating a new contract that would replace the final year of his five-year deal from 2008. Newsome called Bisciotti and said that after tireless conversation with Flacco’s agent Joe Linta, there was no way to get a long-term deal and that the Ravens would need to play out the season and consider signing or franchising their star quarterback in 2013.

Bisciotti authorized a final offer – a “bump and roll” contract that gave Flacco a $1 million per year bonus if he won a Super Bowl and $2 million per year for the six years of the deal if he had won two Super Bowls. It would’ve been a raise that stayed on the books for the life of the deal. The average salary number was $16.7 million per year on the Ravens’ base offer, which would’ve made Flacco the fourth-highest paid quarterback behind Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. Flacco was essentially turning down $90 million because he was rejecting the notion that he was the fourth best quarterback in the NFL.

Linta and Flacco once again turned it down the week before training camp opened.

Bisciotti was flustered, wanting to get the deal done and ran into Flacco in the cafeteria in Owings Mills during the first week of training camp and summoned the quarterback to his office upstairs.

“I had never, ever – not for one minute – even spoken to Joe about the contract,” Bisciotti said. “That was for Pat [Moriarty] and Ozzie [Newsome] to do, but I wanted to take one more swing at it and try to understand the situation.”

They spent 45 minutes with the door closed.

“There are two things here that I don’t understand,” Bisciotti said to Flacco. “I don’t understand why you’re walking away from this deal? As maligned as you are in the press and as little faith as so many pundits have in you, we’re offering you a $90 million deal and you can go wave that in their face and say, ‘F**k you guys! See, the Ravens DO believe in me!’ ”

Flacco was nonplussed. “I really don’t care about my critics,” he bluntly told the Ravens owner.

Bisciotti was exasperated. “I don’t understand it. Joe, don’t you think you’d play better with a clear head and having this contract behind you?” he continued. “You won’t have to answer questions from anybody, and you can just focus on playing and winning the Super Bowl.”

Flacco said it again. “Steve, I appreciate the offer, but I really don’t care about the media, critics, any of it. I’ve gotta trust my agent, and he doesn’t want any incentives in contracts. And I’ve gotta leave it to him.”

Bisciotti reasoned that until they won a Super Bowl together neither one would get that ultimate respect they desired. “I’m offering you a better deal than the one you’re asking me for if you’re planning on winning the Super Bowl,” he said.

Flacco wasn’t upset or emotional, as is his custom. He simply smiled and said he was going to play out the year. Bisciotti said, “Well, I tried,” as he shook Flacco’s hand. “Then go out and put a few rings on my desk and get what you think you deserve.”

“I figured if he’s fine with it then I should be fine with it,” Bisciotti said. “I wanted it behind both of us. I guess I didn’t really understand how different a guy he was. I told him, ‘You are a different cat, man!’ ”

Flacco remembers the conversation vividly. “Yeah, he couldn’t get over it,” Flacco said. “He said, ‘Do you know what you’re doing? This is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard!’ I told him I knew what I was doing and my price wasn’t getting cheaper. I saw his point of view but I also thought that I was right. I’m a little bit of a hard head.”

Flacco believed the market always get set by the next elite quarterback that signs and the price always goes up if you perform. “It wasn’t a bad offer but I felt like I could do better if I waited,” he said. Like his adversary in this $100 million negotiation, he had gone to the Bisciotti school of downside management.

“My agent said to me, ‘Think about the worse possible situation and if you’re OK with that then hold your position,” Flacco said. The downside here would’ve been a catastrophic injury or a bad 2012 season on the field. “If I got hurt, I got hurt,” he said. “That’s the nature of the game. I was willing to look in the mirror and live with that.”

Flacco said he turned the tables on Bisciotti: “I told him, ‘You should give me four or five million more now because if I win the Super Bowl’ – and I did say ‘if’ – ‘then it’s gonna cost you $20 million.’ ”

Flacco figured he was still only making his base of $6.5 million in 2012 no matter what. The Ravens weren’t ripping up his deal. It was an extension. And there’s always a new “going rate” for top quarterbacks.

“I was actually glad that he called me up to talk about it because it was a cool conversation to have,” Flacco said. “Even though we weren’t agreeing it was a great conversation. It’s one of those talks that grows a relationship, I think.

“Hey, I tried to throw him a bone and save him some money.”

 

To purchase Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story, click here.

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A Tale of Two Camps

Posted on 14 August 2012 by WNST Staff

Working in sports media for several years now, I have had the pleasure to cover different training camps over the past seasons; visiting Lehigh University with the Eagles, Redskins Park in Ashburn, Virginia and of course Ravens’ camp at both McDaniel College and the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills. As the Ravens moved back to the Palace, it was inevitable that their camp would change drastically. And even though the comfort level at 1 Winning Drive must be drastically greater for the players, there is definitely an advantage to being off site as well.

The “pros” for camp at home are business related; it is easier to operate the daily functions of the team at the locale where you conduct business. The players have access to the immense accommodations that professional athletes grow accustomed to over their careers; the training rooms, film rooms and housing situations are just better. Also, the team does not need to make arrangements to move the mass amounts of equipment needed to properly conduct practice for several weeks to an off-site locale. The conditions of the fields alone at the Ravens facility go above and beyond standards of a small D-III school known for its liberal arts program and not its athletic facilities.

The distractions on the field are also less significant as well, as thousands of screaming fans are not watching the every move of star players like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and others, who dawn the black and purple. Though a select group of fans are welcome to Owings Mills, they are so far removed from the actual team, their presence is barely known. In short, training camp at the Palace is easier on the entire make-up of the organization to start another NFL season.

On the other hand, keeping camp at a small school has a specific advantage that cannot be taken likely. Players are forced to room together, under meager conditions (for professional athletes’ standards), which can only help a team bond into a unit. Uprooting individuals to a non-descript location will force cohesion from management down to the ball boys, while enforce a camaraderie amongst the players they cannot receive while in the comforts of their own homes.

Back to the distractions; as a team practices in front of herds of the purple camo army, they are learning under conditions more similar to a game atmosphere. The fans will not shut up at M&T Bank Stadium while the team stands on the sidelines waiting for Harbaugh’s decision on a fourth and two. It is certainly worse when the Ravens head on the road to cities like Pittsburgh and New England.

So what form of camp reigns superior? Neither. To gain the greatest advantage, a team should find a way to take advantage of both. The Ravens practices this year at M&T and the Naval Academy are good ideas to the “have their cake and eat it too,” concept, but still does not gain full advantage of the off-site camp.

If the Ravens really wanted to move ahead of the competition, they would build a full training camp facility a couple hours away (maybe on the Eastern Shore). Have this location set to hold camp without having the hassle of moving the equipment from Owings Mills. Make “dorms” for the players to live in, while having a basic replica to the Palace’s training amenities including: medical rooms, state of the art film rooms and grass turf fields (the same as the actual field at M&T). And of course, implementing a practice schedule open to fans for about half of training camp will also provide a good mix between business and distraction.

A logical solution to the Tale of Two Camps.

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Ravens unveil details for open training camp practices

Posted on 29 June 2012 by WNST Staff

The Baltimore Ravens’ 2012 training camp, connected by Verizon, will feature individual practices to be held at M&T Bank Stadium, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis and Stevenson University. Additionally, by entering a lottery on the Ravens’ official website, fans in limited numbers will have the opportunity to win free tickets to training camp at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills.

The Ravens can safely host 200 people on the fields of their training center, and fans who are randomly chosen through the drawing will be invited to view one of the team’s 13 open training camp sessions at the Under Armour Performance Center. The first full-team training camp practice is July 26 and the last is Aug. 15.

M&T Bank Stadium is the site for a training camp practice on Saturday, Aug. 4, and then the Ravens will practice at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 12. Both of these sessions are free and open to the public.

The team will round out its off-site training camp sessions at Mustang Stadium at Stevenson University on Sunday, Aug. 19. While this is a free event, due to limited seating, fans must enter a lottery on the Ravens’ website for an opportunity to win tickets.

Each of these practice venues will feature interactive fan events, including player autograph signings for children, fun-filled activities designed specifically for youth and cheerleader/mascot meet-and-greets.

FAN LOTTERY FOR TRAINING CAMP PRACTICES

Beginning today (6/29), fans may enter a lottery at www.baltimoreravens.com/TCLottery to attend one training camp practice at the Under Armour Performance Center or the practice held at Stevenson University.

All lottery submissions must be made by Friday, July 13 at 5 p.m., and the Ravens will contact fans who are chosen for these practices no later than Thursday, July 19. Details – including parking, practice day/time and procedures – will be communicated to winning recipients upon notification.

RAVENS OFF-SITE TRAINING CAMP PRACTICES

Location:                                       M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore, MD) – Free and Open to the Public

When:                              Saturday, Aug. 4

Practice Start Time:                     5 p.m.

Gates Open:                                 3:30 p.m.

Parking:                           Stadium lots open at noon and are available for cold tailgating. The parking fee is $10.                                 

Other Details:                              Baltimore’s Marching Ravens, cheerleaders, official mascot Poe and live mascots Rise and Conquer will be in attendance. The Ravens Team Store and concession stands will be open.

 

Location:                                       Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (Annapolis, MD) – Free and Open to the Public

When:                              Sunday, Aug. 12

Practice Start Time:                     5 p.m.

Gates Open:                                 3:30 p.m.

Parking:                                         Lots open at noon and are available for cold tailgating.

  • $10 for cars and $25 for buses
  • Parking may be purchased via www.navysports.com
  • If Navy lots become full, nearby off-site locations are available with stadium shuttles.

Other Details:                              Baltimore’s Marching Ravens, cheerleaders, official mascot Poe and live mascots Rise and Conquer will be in attendance. The Ravens Team Store will be on-site, and concession stands will be open.

 

Location:                                       Mustang Stadium at Stevenson University (Owings Mills, MD) – Free Tickets Via Lottery

When:                              Sunday, Aug. 19

Practice Start Time:                     3:30 p.m.

Gates Open:                                 2:30 p.m.

Tickets:                            Due to limited seating, this is a ticketed event, one for which fans can sign up via lottery at

                         www.baltimoreravens.com/TCLottery

Parking:                                         Parking will be provided when tickets are sent to fans.

  • No tailgating

Other Details:                              The Ravens Team Store will be on-site, and concession stands will be open.

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Ravens finalize Training Camp plans

Posted on 29 June 2012 by WNST Staff

Here is some information about the Baltimore Ravens’ 2012 training camp at the Under Armour Performance Center:

  • ·       Rookies, quarterbacks and injured veterans from 2011 will practice at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24.
  • ·       The same group of players will have an “Administrative Day” on July 23.
  • ·       The remainder of the veterans report on July 25.
  • ·       Training camp officially starts on July 26, with the first full-team practice at 2:30 p.m. (Daily practices are scheduled for 2:30 pm.)
  • ·       A “regular” training camp routine will continue through Aug. 15.
  • ·       Our free fan practices at alternate sites are:

1.       Aug. 4 at M&T Bank Stadium at 5 p.m.

2.       Aug. 12 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at 5 p.m.

3.       Aug. 19 at Mustang Stadium at Stevenson University at 3:30 p.m.

  • ·       The following are players’ “off” days: July 29, Aug. 5, 10, 18, 24 and Sept. 1, 2 and 4.

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Ravens training camp vacating Westminster: It’s just business of Hardball

Posted on 03 December 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

In the most recent example of how the world has changed in the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens have finally done something that’s completely rankled the feathers of the majority of purple birds in their immense fan base.

But, really, it’s not hard to anger the locals who certainly will be once-again calling for the firing of Cam Cameron on Sunday night if the 8-3 Ravens lose in Cleveland to the lowly Browns.

Our fans are emotional because they feel like the Ravens are part of their family in Baltimore.

And expectations are always high in Baltimore. Sometimes almost too high. And that extends to the “off the field” expectations from a franchise that has been among the most fan-friendly in American sports since coming from Cleveland in 1995 amidst cries of carpetbagging, lack of civic concern for Northern Ohio and shameless profiteering by Arthur B. Modell.

This moving of training camp from Westminster to Owings Mills won’t be fully understood by many in the Ravens’ fan base, who will incorrectly call this a “money move” in some way or deem it to smack of arrogance by a team that has won over the hearts of the purple metropolis since 1996 with some of the most fan-friendly policies and practices in modern sports.

The Ravens ran things differently for years until the firing of Brian Billick four years ago and the hiring of John Harbaugh changed the tone of the organization.

Under Billick and Modell the corporate mantra was “transparency” and “we do this for the fans.”

Under Harbaugh and Bisciotti, the mantra has been internal paranoia and “W.I.N.”, which translates to “What’s Important Now.”

And that always means “winning” in 2011.

And to win on the field, Coach Hardball thinks the fans and the traditions of Westminster are not as significant as a training camp that is sanitized, orderly and football-focused. The Ravens also have built a castle in Owings Mills that was made for the express purpose of winning football games and preparing football players for maximum productivity and full focus.

The Ravens are in the “business” of winning. Period.

John Harbaugh was brought in to win. Period.

My partner here at WNST.net is a guy named Brian Billick. He did more in his first month in the community than Harbaugh has done in four years but you know what Harbaugh has that my man Billick doesn’t have?

Harbaugh is now going on four consecutive Festivus – or is it Fu-stivus? – appearances and what now feels like a birthright of perennial Januarys

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Live from Owings Mills: Ravens finally have a full-squad practice as Bernard Pollard makes his Ravens debut

Posted on 04 August 2011 by Peter Dilutis

OWINGS MILLS – Both the Ravens and the local media had to exercise some patience Thursday at One Winning Drive as everyone waited for the new CBA to be ratified. Finally, the ratification occurred late in the afternoon, thus starting the NFL calendar year and allowing all players, including those who were restricted and unrestricted free agents this past offseason, to participate in Training Camp.

Marshal Yanda practiced for the first time since signing a long-term deal with Baltimore. Chris Carr got in on the action. Dominique Foxworth participated in practice for the second day in a row after expressing frustration over his knee.

Jimmy Smith watched practice in shorts, but he was doing some individual drills along the sideline, which he was not doing the past few days. His injury is still not considered to be serious, but with each day he misses, the chances of him starting the season as the number one or number two cornerback seem to decrease.

Marcus Pollard also made his Ravens debut, at least in practice. He made quite an impression, flying all over the field and sticking to his reputation of being a hard hitter and strong blitzer.

“He’s a big physical player,” Coach Harbaugh said. “He’s a hard-nosed guy. I think he does have a lot to prove. He’s got a lot of pride. I think he’s proud to be a part of this team now, and I think he thinks it fits his personality. Of course we agree, that’s why he’s here, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he does.”

Pollard met with the Baltimore media for the first time, and he seemed satisfied with his first day in purple and black.

“(I was) flying around,” Pollard said. “Trying to learn this thing. I’m eager to learn this system. I’ve got a few calls down…The biggest thing is playing fast, practicing fast.”

Pollard discussed why he chose to come to Baltimore.

“The biggest thing is just me knowing the type of player I am and the team that would allow me to be that player and not hold back.”

Ed Reed gave his thoughts on how he thinks Pollard will fit in with the team.

“We’ll see,” Reed said. “You never know until a guy gets on the field. The AFC North is different football.”

As all Ravens fans know, Ed Reed certainly has a point. But from what I saw of and heard from Bernard Pollard today, he’ll fit right in here as a member of the Ravens defense.

“I’m going to hit you,” Pollard said. “I’m going to do whatever I have to do to get the ball…I don’t want anything handed to me. I’m the type of dude that will hit you in the mouth and take it from you.”

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Ravens announce free practice downtown on Saturday, Aug. 6

Posted on 28 July 2011 by WNST Staff

The Baltimore Ravens will conduct a free practice for fans at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6, with the session beginning at 10 a.m.

Also free of charge, parking lots for the event open at 8 a.m., and fans may park in Lots A, B, C and G. Cold tailgating will be permitted in all lots.

Admittance to the stadium for the general public will be through Gates A and D, which open at 9 a.m. No ticket is necessary to attend the event.

One year ago, when the Ravens had a franchise-record 112,051 fans attend training camp practices, 17,851 people filled M&T Bank Stadium for a practice. The largest crowd ever for a stadium practice marked 36,016 fans during the 1998 training camp, when Ravens fans entered the then-new stadium for the first time.

“We love the energy Ravens fans bring to a practice,” head coach John Harbaugh stated. “We look forward to being in front of them on that Saturday.”

This year’s stadium practice, connected by Verizon Wireless, will feature the following interactive fan events and performers:

·       Local celebrity emcees in the stands and on-field, providing full reports of activities and player/coach insight
·       Interactive games, including inflatables and a Ravens Rookies Kids area
·       Face painters, caricatures and a photo booth in the family fun area
·       Autograph signings from Baltimore Football Alumni
·       Autograph signings and meet-and-greets with the 2011 Ravens Cheerleaders
·       The Ravens’ official mascot, Poe
·       Baltimore’s Marching Ravens Pep Band
·       Unique memorabilia at the Ravens Rummage Sale
·       Ravens Team Store
·       Lower level concession stands
·       Two inside ticket windows will be open near section 142 for regular season and preseason single-game sales

Visit www.BaltimoreRavens.com for more information.

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