Baltimore Ravens Admit NFL Protests Tanked Their Ticket Sales

Posted: Dec 24, 2017 4:30 PM

In September, Matt reported about the Baltimore Ravens National Anthem singer who quit his job due to the National Football League protests sparked by Colin Kaepernick in a supposed attempt to highlight police brutality by kneeling during the Star Spangled banner.

Joey Odoms quit, not because he did not support these players, but because of the fans who did not make an effort to understand why these protests were happening.

“The tone/actions of a large number of NFL fans in the midst of our country's cultural crisis have convinced me that I do not belong there,” said Odoms on Facebook:

Dear Ravens Flock

I am resigning as Official National Anthem Singer of the Baltimore Ravens. The people I've had the pleasure of meeting at the Ravens organization have been nothing but nice to me, however the tone/actions of a large number of NFL fans in the midst of our country's cultural crisis, have convinced me that I do not belong there. Someone once told me to always "go where you're welcomed". This is not an emotional reaction to recent events, rather an ethical decision that part of me regrets but my core knows is the right choice.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to grow as a performer and for allowing me to live out a dream of sharing my gift with you."

Odoms, however, was not unique in his boycott. Fans from across the political spectrum shut the TV off in droves; some disgusted by the disrespect shown towards the flag, others irked by the treatment of players who knelt. However, no team has actually admitted the damage caused by these protests and the NFL’s handling of this mismanaged public relations saga until now.

This week, the Baltimore Ravens sent fans and season ticket holders a letter blaming ticket sales declining because of the teams protests.

"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."

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.

"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 wrote.

According to Cass, the Ravens reached out to a number of fans who wrote to the team or called about the protest. Cass also personally made a number of phone calls and met with some fans, the letter stated.

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

"In light of recent events, we are also reminded that winning alone is not always enough to make the Ravens the unifying force we want to be. We don't take your support for granted, and we know that we must continue to earn your respect and investment in us."

The inundation of politics into sport as of late has affected anybody who has weighed in on the matter. Colleague Jazz Shaw summed it up nicely over on

"Will the admission from Cass and his commitment to “do better” in the future make a difference? Perhaps, but probably not right away. If all of this protest nonsense can be put behind the league and kept to venues outside the stadium by next season, people will probably come back. But it’s also yet another example of the dangers of dragging politics into areas where people simply don’t want to see it. Just yesterday we were talking about the hit that Papa John’s Pizza took, leading to the resignation of their founder and CEO. They lost a lot of sales this year after he came out in opposition to the anthem protests.

You can see how it doesn’t really matter which side of the issue you come down on. Obviously, people aren’t looking for a side order of political ideology with their large, meat lovers’ pie. Those who disagreed with the display began abandoning the brand, just as they’ve done with the Ravens. And those who agree were not willing to suddenly begin making up the difference. Those who opposed the protests weren’t buying more pizzas and those supporting the protests weren’t buying up the tickets to go to Ravens games. 

Too little, too late, at least as far as this season goes. Perhaps the lesson can be taken forward next year and we can get back to enjoying the game."

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