© 2023 WYPR
20th Anniversary Background
WYPR 88.1 FM Baltimore WYPF 88.1 FM Frederick WYPO 106.9 FM Ocean City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Ravens choose wrong two words to sum up 2017 season


It’s now standard behavior for a team to take out an ad in the local newspaper after their season ends to extend a word of gratitude to the fanbase for the year just completed.

And so it was Sunday as the Ravens posted a full-page advertisement in The Baltimore Sun with pictures of fans under the headline, “Thank You.”

It’s a sweet sentiment, but frankly, from this vantage point, the Ravens offered the wrong two words to their faithful.

A much better choice would have been “We’re Sorry.”

Let’s be clear: Neither the Ravens nor the NFL nor any of the member clubs nor the players need to apologize for the protests that took place this season, centered mostly along the lines of players taking a knee during the national anthem.

If Ravens fans were truly offended by players kneeling whether they did it in London or in Baltimore, then it’s the fans who have issues, not the players.

But the entire Ravens organization should issue some sort of mea culpa to fans who labored through the mess the 2017 season became.

It was a season that started with the promise of a 20-0 shutout of the Cincinnati Bengals on the road and ended with the Bengals, with nothing to play for in the final game, converting a fourth and 12 from midfield for a 49-yard touchdown to knock the Ravens out of the playoffs.

In between, the Ravens beat only one team with a winning record and dropped a winnable home game to the Chicago Bears, one of only five games the Bears won all season.

The Ravens ought to apologize for missing out on postseason play for a third straight year and a fourth season out of five, especially when the playoffs were so eminently reachable.

The offense sputtered early in the season with quarterback Joe Flacco throwing interceptions in each of the first four games, extending that streak to 10 overall.

The defense pitched three shutouts and led the league in taking the ball away more than it gave it away.

But in crucial moments down the stretch, especially in the second Pittsburgh game and the now-infamous Bengals contest, the defense couldn’t get one crucial, season-changing stop.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has retired, while the team has brought in a quarterbacks coach, presumably to work with Flacco on his mechanics.

But, incredibly, there’s been little to no conversation about the job status of either general manager Ozzie Newsome or coach John Harbaugh.

Newsome, a Hall of Fame tight end in his playing days, is the only general manager the franchise has had in 21 years. Save for a lackluster record of producing wide receivers, Newsome is a brilliant talent evaluator.

Harbaugh, meanwhile, has coached erratically the last five seasons, since winning the Super Bowl. He has been slow to make necessary personnel and coaching changes and has played far too many hunches.

The team will need to get out to a good start next season that ends with a postseason berth or owner Steve Bisciotti’s first two words to either Newsome or Harbaugh or both next January will have to be you’re fired.

And that’s how I see it for this week. 

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.