While the Ravens were on their way to their best record in franchise history during the 2006 season, they received little fanfare, little respect for a team that would ultimately finish the regular season 13-3. Here’s a look back at a column published on December 12, 2006, one that captured the feeling that the Ravens were the league’s ugly red-headed stepchild, with all due respect to ugly red-headed stepchildren.
Chances are if you are reading this you are a Ravens fan. And thanks to the genetics of a Ravens fan your DNA suggests that you suffer from an inferiority complex when it comes to the NFL. You can’t help it really — it’s just how you are built.
Turn on ESPN or NFL Network after a big Ravens win with high hopes that the Ravens will be deluged with praise from the national pundits and what do you get — a Bengals’ love fest. Listen to Chris Berman (assuming you can any more) and his weekly Swami almost always picks against the Ravens by some twisted score of 12-11 or somewhere thereabout.
From being told to build a museum to the lack of nationally televised games; from the difficulty of schedule to a Christmas Eve game on the road in Pittsburgh; from referees accusing the Ravens of having malice in their hearts to Brian Billick subtly suggesting that the league has an ax to grind with our city, you think the NFL’s league office will turn the screw on Baltimore whenever it can.
Make no mistake about it, the fix is in!
The Ravens are the Rodney Dangerfields of the NFL. We get no respect!
While the league and its talking heads fawn all over the Chargers, a team the Ravens beat no less, the Ravens are tucked away like an ugly stepchild. As the league showcases Cell Block H (aka the Cincinnati Bengals) the fans of Baltimore feel like it’s their team that is incarcerated.
And you know what? You’re right. Your feelings are justified. Baltimore does get the dry shaft. We do get ignored. We are like Flick with his tongue stuck to the pole while the others are huddled inside a toasty classroom watching highlight films that don’t include us.
There’s a reason for it — SEX SELLS and the Ravens aren’t sexy.
The Ravens are built on defense and defense while it wins championships isn’t exciting for highlight programs. Last night our quarterback made the highlight reels — for a tackle, for being a defender! Yep, Steve McNair was featured on ESPN’s Jacked Up segment.
But generally fans want to see scoring — big plays. Gamblers want to see the plays that won them cash or sealed their fate; fantasy football players line up to watch SportsCenter and NFL Replay like Roseanne Barr queues up at Jonah & The Whale’s all you can eat buffet.
That’s how it is and the Ravens aren’t quite the match for that NFL world.
All NFL fans want their team to play great defense yet offense is more exciting. We like Mary Ann for a lifetime but Ginger for a night on the town. We don’t run to the TV to look for the girl next door — we want to see Angelina Jolie or Jeri Ryan. When is the last time a lawyer looked like Jeri Ryan and if I’m mistaken and she’s the norm for female attorneys then I have to tell you, I’m ready to sue somebody for something.
Hey let’s sue the NFL for character defamation or psychological abuse.
We’re tired of the neglect here in Baltimore!
Look around you. What NFL jerseys do kids buy? Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Michael Vick, Ladainian Tomlinson and (gulp) Ben Roethlisberger are at or near the top of jersey sales. Nobody wants us!
Face it folks — the Ravens just aren’t sexy.
Offense is sexy and sex sells.
Look at all the recent changes, modifications or closer enforcements of NFL rules. Just about every one is designed to help the offense. It’s the NFL’s version of Nip/Tuck and all the enhancements boost offensive teams.
So Baltimore if you want your team to get more attention — attention deserving of a 10-3 team, then you better hope they get sexier and sexier means more offense.
That’s just the way it is and it’s doubtful that it will ever change.
You can thank Vegas, fantasy footballers and Ginger for that.