Fans not permitted at Ravens training camp

The Covid-19 pandemic has turned just about every facet of life upside down. Like everything else, National Football League (NFL) training camps are not immune to the effects. Fans of the Baltimore Ravens won’t be permitted to attend training camp practices this year.

Closing training camp to fans is a joint decision between the NFL and the National Foofball League Players Association (NFLPA). The league’s mandate supersedes any state decisions that may allow large gatherings.

For many Ravens fans, heading to the Under Armour Performance Center braving the dog days of August to get an up close look at their favorite team was an annual occurrence. Due to the expensive costs for tickets to games, training camp was the only opportunity for the average fan to see the Ravens in person.

The bleachers that surround the practice fields at the Under Armour Performance Center can hold up to 2,000 fans according to the team site. On any given day, those bleachers were full of fans in previous years.

The Ravens are one of the most popular teams in the NFL. The franchise has a unique bond and connection to the community. A lot of the players normally have football camps for the underprivileged youth in the Baltimore area. These camps weren’t able to take place this year because of the pandemic.

The team is aware of how much the fans love the Ravens. But they’re wisely taking a safety first approach. “It is critically important that we protect the well-being of our players,coaches, staff, fans and overall community,” Ravens President Dick Cass explained via the team site. “Health and safety will always be a top priority, and while we are disappointed that fans will not attend training camp, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the public and our organization. We look forward to welcoming back fans in the future when we can safely do so.

” It’s unfortunate that so many fans won’t get that up close look at the Ravens but it’s more important to do everything possible to limit the spread of Covid-19.

NFL Will Play Black National Anthem at Games

When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the national anthem to bring awareness to social and other injustices faced regularly by Black and Brown individuals in America, the National Football League, President Donald Trump, and others wrongly associated the quarterback’s actions as a protest against the U.S. flag and the nation’s military.

In the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, protests and demonstrations have awakened America and most of the world to the plight of African Americans who long have suffered injustice, inequality, and an overall lack of understanding.

The NFL remains at the forefront of the new understanding, and now they’ve taken that knowledge, and, in an unprecedented decision, the league announced it would play Lift Every Voice and Sing – the Black National Anthem – before every opening day game this year.

The performance of the song will occur before “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the NFL said. The league’s season opener is scheduled for September 10, with the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans.

“The league taking the opportunity to play “Lift every voice and sing” (the Black national anthem) is sweet. It’s a great way to honor those who started this movement year and years ago,” tweeted Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley.

“For those who aren’t familiar with it, this song seeks to remind us of our past as a country and to strive to be better. It speaks to all of us, not just Black people, even tho it became a rallying cry for Blacks in the Jim Crow era. It is a beautiful message birthed from pain,” Conley added.

“To those claiming the song is derisive, I ask which part? Much like America the Beautiful is played to honor, this song is the same. It’s isn’t for “just Black people” it’s for all who acknowledge the past and press toward a better future.”

As noted in Sports Illustrated, Lift Every Voice and Sing has an extensive history since its first inception as a poem in 1899. According to the NAACP, its lyrics were penned by writer and NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson (a Jacksonville native). It was eventually adopted for music by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson. Years later, it was adopted by the NAACP as the organization’s official song.

According to the NAACP, the song was first performed in Jacksonville at a school where James Weldon Johnson was the principal. As part of a celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, 1900, Lift Every Voice and Sing was publicly performed by 500 school children at the Stanton School.

The NFL has recently acknowledged it was wrong in how it handled Kaepernick, who has mostly been black balled from the game. Commissioner Roger Goodell has said he now would encourage teams to sign the former Super Bowl quarterback.

Because Goodell has reversed course and said he would allow kneeling, the league came under enormous criticism from President Donald Trump, who now is calling for a boycott of the NFL.

Sen. Ted Cruz called the decision to play the Black National Anthem “asinine,” further fueling racial tensions that have already boiled over since the Floyd killing.

Should Ravens fans get ‘opt out’ season ticket opportunity?

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the impact it will have on football is in question. Two preseason games have been canceled. The National Football League Player’s Association (NFLPA) voted to eliminate all four preseason games this season. The possibility of having a season without fans in the stands is becoming a likely option.

Multiple teams have started to allow their season ticket holders to opt out of their season tickets for the 2020 season without losing their seat license. The plan came to existence as rising concerns about limits being placed on stadium capacity started to become a realistic possibility.

Currently, the Baltimore Ravens are not one of the teams to offer an “opt out” plan but that could change in the near future. Earlier this year, the Ravens pushed the final season ticket payments back from May 15 to June 15 to accommodate their fans.

“We’re constantly monitoring the serious impact this public health crisis is having on our fans and community,” Ravens senior vice president of ticket sales and operations Baker Koppelman stated to in March. “Priorities have shifted for many people, and rightfully so. We hope this adjustment offers some relief at a time when families and businesses are forced to deal with more pressing needs.”

The NFL has not developed a league-wide policy for fan attendance this season. Each team is being allowed to determine fan attendance at games as it pertains to the corona virus guidelines set by the state where the team plays their home games.

According to, the state’s key COVID-19 health metrics continue to trend in a positive direction, with the statewide positivity rate dropping to a new low of 4.51 percent and total current hospitalizations falling to 403. 

M&T Bank Stadium has provided a legitimate home field advantage for the Ravens over the last two regular seasons. The Ravens hold a combined 13-3 home record since 2018. But both seasons ended with a home loss in the postseason.

There will almost definitely be a limit on how many fans will be able to attend the games in the stadiums. The process to determine which fans will be allowed to attend games still has to be addressed. Hopefully, the decision will be made by the time the stadiums are reopened this month.  

With training camp set to begin on July 28, 2020 for all teams, fan attendance won’t be an option for practices at the Under Armour Performance Center or any of the other NFL facilities. Attending games may not be an option either.

Ravens GM John Harbaugh hopeful to have NFL season

Like many other NFL teams, the Covid-19 pandemic changed the way the Baltimore Ravens conducted their offseason. With training camp set to take place in just over a month, there are questions about whether or not the league will be able to have a season. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, offered some not too promising words when asked about the NFL 2020 season. 

“Unless players are essentially in a bubble insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day— it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall,” Fauci told CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. “If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year.”

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told reporters on Monday that he is hopeful the NFL season will move forward as scheduled.

Other sports that have attempted to take the next steps were met with an uptick in positive tests for Covid-19. Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic tested positive after an exhibition match in Croatia. 

College football started their summer workouts last week. Clemson announced 23 of their players and five of their staff members have tested positive. Texas had 13 positive tests and they currently have 10 players in quarantine. Kansas State shutdown their workouts after 14 cases. 

The NFL has said they will make the necessary adjustments to provide the safest possible work environment for the coaches and players. The league issued a memo outlining tiers of access for team employees.

They’ll work to implement their strategy before the start of training camp. When they do start, the same challenge that other sports are encountering will be presented to NFL teams.

Harbaugh remains optimistic about the NFL’s chances and is speaking it into existence. 

“I’m confident that it will happen. I’m very hopeful. I’m praying for it,” Harbaugh said. “I want it to happen and think it will happen. I believe it will happen. I think we’ll have the protocols in place.”

Ravens Steve Bisciotti releases statement about Black Lives Matter

The Baltimore Ravens have consistently been one of the more progressive organizations in the NFL. In November 2002, Ozzie Newsome was named as the team’s general manager. Newsome was the first black man to hold the position in the NFL. With Steve Bisciotti as the owner, the Ravens continue to show support to the Baltimore community, the majority of which is black. Bisciotti’s latest message is possibly his strongest yet.

The Ravens owner released a message via the team’s website in support of Black Lives Matter and took a bold stand against the social injustices, police brutality, and systemic racism that exists today.

“Ravens Nation, like most of you I’m sure watching those videos shook you, and shook me to my core. It made me sick; and it made me angry,” Bisciotti said.

One of the videos Bisciotti was referring to was of George Floyd being murdered by former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s kneck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, resulting in Floyd’s death.

Floyd’s murder wasn’t the only video that Bisciotti watched. Bisciotti said he saw the video of Ahmaud Aubrey being murdered 7-10 days before seeing the video of Floyd’s murder. He called it the most despicable thing he had ever seen.

As the owner of the Ravens, Bisciotti has gotten the chance to develop close-knit relationships with many black players. He wants them to be able to express their concerns and have people actually listen. 

“All they’re asking for is right now is to be heard. I want to ask you individually, Are you willing to listen? That’s all they want. And if you listen enough, will you learn to speak up? That’s the hardest thing for us. But it’s the first thing that they need…to just believe they have partners that want to listen.

“I’ve learned in my life more than anything, that anger comes from hurt. I see that anger. If we don’t stop and think about the hurt that has been caused nothing will ever change. These young men are hurting and they’re begging us to listen.”

Bisciotti said he got to sit in on virtual meetings with the players. He admitted that the conversations were uncomfortable for both he and the players. Seeing them being uncomfortable had a huge impact on Bisciotti. His fear of saying the wrong thing would have made it easy not to say anything but he refused to allow being quiet to be an option for him or the Ravens organization.

Now he is urging everyone to speak up and take a stand in addition to calling out those who don’t.

“To say ‘stick to sports’ to my players is the worst possible thing that you can feel and say. If my players both white and black don’t speak out about this injustice to their communities, then they’re sellouts or they’re hypocrites. If I don’t defend my players, then I’m the worst kind of hypocrite.

“I’ve spent 20 years loving watching them perform. Building relationships with these young men has meant more than success on the field. If I was them, I wouldn’t want to work for me if I’m scared to speak out or if I didn’t consider economic hurt because I don’t want to offend. I’m not going to do it and I hope the fans feel the same way. 

“Black lives matter and I think for the vast majority of you all, you feel it and more importantly you live it by your actions. So, why is saying it, so hard? If you don’t understand it then ask the difficult questions.”Well said, Mr. Bisciotti.

Ray Lewis offers words of encouragement to George Floyd’s family

Baltimore Ravens legend Ray Lewis spoke to George Floyd’s family earlier this week. Floyd was laid to rest on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, after he killed by Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin. Lewis shared some of the things he told the Floyd family during a virtual meeting with University of Maryland, Baltimore Interim President Dr. Bruce Jarrell.

“I told them that they are not alone. There are so many people across the world feeling so much pain and anger. People are frustrated of injustice, of what’s right. The color of your skin should not define who you are or what you do in life,” Lewis said. “I told George Floyd’s family that God don’t make mistakes. People have found their ways of doing what they want to do and evil finds even the strongest.”

The tragedy sparked protests and riots across the country. It took Lewis back to a time when he was a sophomore in high school in 1991 when Rodney King was brutally beaten by members of the Los Angeles Police Department. He said he remembered asking his mother why are black people treated differently. His mother’s inability to answer him other than to say, “the world wasn’t fair,” still resonates with Lewis today.

“This one here has bothered me froma different place,” Lewis said. “I’ve had sleepless nights because I think when you think about what’s happening, the thing I fear the most is our kids are experiencing things that even our parents can’t explain to them.

“People are just frustrated of injustice. The color of your skin should not define who you are or what you do in life. Our only way out of this is through love. We have to feel each other again. We have to love each other again. The question is: How do we replace all the pain, hurt, confusion, and injustice with love, hope, communication and integrity?”

The way that Floyd was killed stirs up emotions within any person with a conscience. Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s neck depriving him of oxygen while he was held on the ground in handcuffs. Two other officers also held him down and another officer stood guard as people watched the tragedy take place. This went on for almost nine minutes before Floyd took his last breath.

Floyd’s death has impacted the United States in a different way. More people are making their disgust known.

“It’s therapeutic to get that pain out,” Lewis said. “When you turn that pain into an open dialogue, you start to see change. Eventually, that pain becomes a vision. Then, that vision becomes a mission. That mission becomes your purpose. And that purpose becomes your destiny.”

You can’t tell people how to deal with these issues and if you’re a black man, you live it.

“My advice to the world is that our only way out is love,” Lewis said. “But we have to strategically put together the right connection to hold the people accountable.”

Exercise and safety is message from Coach Mack Allison at Time2Grind Gym

The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced many to stay at home in Baltimore and all over the United States.

For athletes, stay-at-home means gyms and other training facilities are mostly off-limits.

However, staying at home doesn’t mean physical exercise and training has to stop altogether, according to Mack Allison III, who runs the Time2Grind Gym, a haven and sanctuary for many area youths.

Coach Mack, as he is famously known, hasn’t stopped trying to motivate his students.

“I’ve been training all kinds of athletes for more than 30 years, and this is the first time in my life that I’ve experienced a situation like [the coronavirus pandemic],” Allison said. “This virus has changed a lot of people’s lives.”

Still, Allison works out each evening after the work and he regularly calls and encourages many of his students to do the same.

“Our athletes have to become more self-motivated and disciplined,” Allison said. “I tell them to train in their basement, bedroom, backyard or any place that you have in your house.”

Allison also does what he calls drive-bys.

“I get in my car and tell them to put a mask on and come out and run up and down the block for exercise and a workout,” Allison said.

The longtime coach, who has helped to develop champions from his gym, added that health and safety is the recurring theme.

“I tell them all of the time that boxing was here before we were born, and it will be here long after we’re no longer here,” Allison said. “So, I keep telling them to wear a face mask and gloves, and have hand sanitizer if they’re going to go anywhere.”

Allison also has a unique exercise to stay active during the pandemic.

“It’s called ‘5020.’ You can use jumping jacks or high knees push-ups,” said Allison. “You do it 50 times with 20 regular push-ups or knee push-ups. You want to be able to do eight sets of this without stopping, but you can start with four sets.”

Allison has kept his students engaged and encouraged.

“Whatever your coach has taught you— practice it. I had my students laughing, when I showed them a video of me using toilet paper to help me with my push-ups and curling exercises,”

Allison said. “I think it’s so important for the coaches to stay connected with their athletes by texting them, calling them, using Zoom. We have to stay away until the virus goes away. The mayor hasn’t opened things back up yet, and I agree with the mayor because Covid-19 is no joke. It’s serious, and I tell my kids that nobody is dying on my watch being silly.”

Ravens make financial commitment to social justice reform

The recent occurrences of police social injustice have made it clear that change is needed. Breona Taylor and George Floyd lost their lives at the hands of

police. Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed by vigilantes. Enough is enough.

The Baltimore Ravens have always been an organization that has a deep connection to the community. Knowing that change is needed, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti is committing $1 million to make that change through social justice reform in the Baltimore area through the Stephen and Renee Bisciotti Foundation according to the team site.

Bisciotti released the following statement via on Monday, June 1, 2020:

“There is nothing I can say to ease the pain felt by African-American communities across our country. No words will repair the damage that has been done.

“Like many people, I am sickened, disheartened and shaken by the acts of racism that continue to overwhelm our society. The most recent killing, involving George Floyd, is yet another tragic example of the discrimination that African-Americans face each day.

“Now, more than ever, we must all strengthen our pursuit of positive change, as we stand with peaceful protestors around the country. We must all seek to understand by listening better and learning more. We must all discover new ways to unite. We must all work to break the cycle of systematic racial injustice.

“Our players have been— and will continue to be— at the forefront of this change. We believe in their commitment to furthering social justice and invoking meaningful change. We stand side by side with them, in full support. It is for this reason that I have asked a group of former and current Ravens players to decide which organizations should receive proceeds from the $1 million donation we are making today.”

A committee consisting of current and former Ravens players will determine which programs will directly benefit from the funds.

This isn’t the first time the Ravens have worked to create change after police brutality. In 2018, the Ravens organization along with its players donated a combined $500,000 to various social justice efforts throughout Baltimore City.

Back in 2015, after Freddie Gray’s death during an arrest by Baltimore police, the Ravens reached out to the community. Protestors stormed the streets and the protest turned into looting. The Ravens sent two busloads of coaches and players to talk to people in the community and help out where they could.

Now is the time for unity and taking a collective stand against social injustice. The Ravens are doing the right thing, which will hopefully be the start of an extreme push towards making America a better place for people of color.

NBA Hall of Famer Wes Unseld dies at 74

Wes Unseld, the burly Hall of Famer who led the then-Washington Bullets to the franchise’s only NBA championship, died Tuesday morning, his family said in a statement. He was 74.

Unseld’s family said he passed away surrounded by relatives and following lengthy health battles, most recently with pneumonia.

“He was the rock of our family — an extremely devoted patriarch who reveled in being with his wife, children, friends and teammates,” his family wrote. “He was our hero and loved playing and working around the game of basketball for the cities of Baltimore and Washington D.C., cities he proudly wore on his chest for so many years.”

Selected with the second overall pick in the 1968 draft by the Baltimore Bullets, Unseld made an immediate impact and changed the fortunes of the franchise — now known as the Washington Wizards.

In his first season in Baltimore, he guided the team to a 57-25 record — 21 more wins than the prior year — and led the Bullets to their first-ever playoff appearance.

Averaging 13.8 points and 18.2 rebounds per game his rookie season, Unseld won both the Rookie of the Year and regular season Most Valuable Player awards, becoming the second NBA player after Wilt Chamberlain to capture both awards in the same season.

Known for his rebounding and great outlet passes, Unseld led Baltimore to five consecutive playoff appearances, which continued after the franchise moved to Washington — technically, the Maryland suburbs — in 1973. The Bullets made 12 straight playoff appearances and four NBA Finals during his career. Over this time the five-time All-Star averaged 10.8 points, 14.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists.

His biggest moment came in 1978, when he and Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes led the Bullets to the NBA championship, defeating the Seattle SuperSonics in seven games. Unseld was named the Finals’ Most Valuable Player.

“We all admired Wes as the pillar of this franchise for so long, but it was his work off the court that will truly leave an impactful legacy and live on through the many people he touched and influenced throughout his life of basketball and beyond,” said Ted Leonsis, Chairman & CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Wizards.

In 1981, Unseld’s No. 41 was retired and his is now one of five Bullets/Wizards jerseys hanging in the rafters at Capital One Arena in Washington.

After retiring from the NBA, Unseld remained with the Bullets, first working in the front office and then coaching the team. He won 202 games, the second-most in franchise history.

In 1988 Unseld was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was voted a top 50 player in league history in 1996.

“His physical prowess, undeniable talent and on-court demeanor may have struck fear in opponents throughout the NBA but he will be remembered best as a mentor, leader and friend,” Washington Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard said.

Wes Unseld is survived by his wife Connie of 50 years, daughter Kimberly, son Wes Jr. and his two grandchildren.

Ravens re-open training facility

The NFL recently showed signs of climbing out from the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted the country. As more states begin to open up, various NFL teams are re-opening their facilities.

The Baltimore Ravens recently received notice from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan that they are cleared to re-open their facilities with Phase 1 restrictions.

A drive past the Under Armour Performance Center or M&T Bank Stadium will no longer result in seeing an empty parking lot. The buildings won’t see the return of all team employees however. Phase 1 permits up to 75 team employees to be allowed in the building.

Each NFL team opening their facilities are required to implement an Infection Response Team. The team is made up of the following:

• A local physical with expertise in common infectious disease principles

• The club infection control officer

• Team athletic trainer

• Team head physician

• HR Director

• Chief of security

• Team mental health physician

• Member of club operations staff

The 75 employees don’t include players or coaches. Players that reporting to the facility for rehab before it closed in March are permitted to continue to go to the building. If the strength and conditioning coach was working with the players during their rehab process before the facility closed, he/she is able to continue to do so during Phase 1.

Members of the football administration staff, football operations staff, personnel staff, medical staff, equipment staff and nutritionists are permitted in the building. Any employee entering the building must first undergo COVID-19 safety and hygiene training.

Like other teams that are re-opening, the Ravens will require employees to wear masks and practice social distancing. There will also be temperature checks before entrance into the facility is granted.

Although the future schedule is uncertain, this is a step in the right direction towards revisiting some form of continuation into the next part of the offseason.

The next phase of the reopening plan calls for coaches to return to the building. but Ravens team President Dick Cass hinted that it will be kind of a wait and see approach.

“If the infection rate is really low, as I expect it will be by late summer, and we have adequate testing, and people are careful when they leave the building, I think there’s a really good shot that we’ll be OK,” Cass said via the Ravens team website.

The goal is to at least have a full training camp leading into the regular season. According to Yahoo Sports, June 15 and June 27 are dates earmarked as possibilities for full-squad minicamps. None or that is possible without signoff from the NFLPA.

As of Wednesday, there is no agreement in place regarding the players’ role in the reopening plan. Cleveland Browns offensive lineman and NFLPA president JC Tretter released the following statement on social media on Tuesday:

“Our union has not agreed to any reopening plan. Any reports about coming back to work are hypothetical. You will hear from the NFLPA when there are new developments.”

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told CNBC earlier this week that he fully expects an NFL season to take place. However, Ross admitted that he was uncertain as to whether or not fans will be in the stands.