Ravens president blames anthem protests on poor attendance

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The Baltimore Ravens never actually protested the national anthem in the U.S., but when they left the country in September to play a game in London, England, the team used that opportunity to stage their first and only protest. Now, team president Dick Cass is blaming that incident as one of the reasons why fans have seemingly abandoned the Ravens.

Now, with Baltimore in the midst of a playoff race, the team sent a letter this week to season-ticket holders, suite holders and sponsors, admitting to several reasons why there are so many empty seats at their games.

“The numbers [of no-shows] are higher, and it is noticeable,” Cass wrote in the 656-word letter. “There are a number of reasons for the no-shows, but surely the one-time protest in London has been a factor.”

According to a report from ESPN, the Ravens’ first protest as a team occurred in London on Sept. 24, when more than a dozen players knelt during the national anthem before the first NFL game of the day. That began a daylong chain of protests in the wake of President Donald Trump’s critical comments and tweets about protests during the anthem.

The following week in Baltimore, the Ravens knelt in prayer before standing for the anthem. Fans at M&T Bank Stadium booed the players when they took a knee.

The team has not protested since.

Signed by Cass, the letter states, “We have responded to your concerns about the protest by re-doubling the efforts of both the organization and our players to make the Baltimore area a better community.”

Cass mentioned that the Ravens had reached out to a number of fans who wrote to the team or called about the protest.

“We want the Ravens to continue to be a strong, unifying force and source of pride in our community,” he wrote, adding, “When the Ravens win, we can bring families and the community together. We’ve done that before, and we can do it again.”

Cass also acknowledged, “We don’t take your support for granted, and we know that we must continue to earn your respect and investment in us.”

The letter was sent before Baltimore finishes out the regular season with home games against the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals. If the Ravens win out, they will clinch their first playoff berth since 2014.

“I think they’re starting to get excited about this football team,” coach John Harbaugh said after last Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Browns. “So it should be fun in our stadium against the Colts next Saturday night.”

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