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Will Winning Solve The Ravens' Attendance Problem?

February 3, 2018
In a nearly 45-minute news conference Feb. 2, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti was long on his football wisdom but chose not to dwell on the specifics regarding how he intends to win back the portion of his fan base that feels alienated enough not to attend games.

The annual "State of the Ravens" news conference usually features Bisciotti along with team president Dick Cass, head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome. But Bisciotti said from the onset Feb. 2 that he decided to go solo so he wouldn't have to force the rest of the team's brass to listen to him "yak away."

Bisciotti acknowledged that the national anthem protest in London was an insult to fans around the league, and thus resulted in lower attendance throughout the season. He also was critical -- although not mentioning him by name -- of commissioner Roger Goodell and the lack of proactive discussions after the 2016 season that might have led to a resolution before so much damage was done.

But when the topic of empty seats at M&T Bank Stadium came up, Bisciotti said he thought that had more to do with the team's playoff absence for three consecutive seasons and the unentertaining brand of offensive football the Ravens produced during the first half of 2017.

Bisciotti reiterated that quarterback Joe Flacco was hampered for the first half of the season by a herniated disc in his back, which caused him to miss the entire preseason. 

The other issue that was spelled out much more clearly is that 2018 will be Newsome's last year with the club. After the season, Newsome will hand things over to longtime assistant Eric DeCosta.

Bisciotti's only hint at irritation came when a reporter mentioned the team was at a "cross roads." Bisciotti seemed to bristle at the term -- saying it wasn't an accurate assessment of where the team was right now.

Bisciotti also jousted with The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston when Preston insinuated that most of the Ravens' late-season wins came against bad teams. Bisciotti said he didn't know at the time they were bad teams.

It seems as though Bisciotti feels a return to winning will solve all that ails his team. But that leaves fans with one question -- is that all it is, or are Bisciotti and the Ravens' front office in a very expensive state of denial?

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jonathan Oleisky