Forget the coronation and the jubilation of a nationally televised celebration in Baltimore. The Super Bowl champion Ravens will open their 2013 season on the road.
The NFL likes to have its reigning champ open at home against an attractive opponent on the Thursday before every other team's kickoff weekend. Problem was, the Orioles have long been scheduled to host the Chicago White Sox on that night, Sept. 5, and the Ravens and Orioles share parking lots.
Rather than getting mad at the all-powerful NFL, which is not used to being told no and seized upon the political correctness of a religious holiday to justify its decision not to simply move the game up by one day, fans will undoubtedly blame the Orioles for a failure to kowtow to the big bullies behind The Shield.
Sure, the Orioles (and the White Sox and Major League Baseball) probably could've found a way to play in the early afternoon that day, but why should they? It's the final month of a long regular season and it could be an important game with playoff consequences. With the Orioles and White Sox both playing night games in different cities on Sept. 4, they would've had to fly into Baltimore in the week hours and then and play on little sleep.
And what if the game had gone long? You might recall the Orioles played a lot of extra-inning games in 2012, including one that went 18 frames.
And, of course, there could've been a lengthy rain delay. How would Ravens fans enjoyed their tailgating on I-95 with the parking lots full of Orioles fans?
There was, of course, another solution. The NFL could've opened the night before, on Wednesday, Sept. 4.
There's precedent for that, considering the NFL opened on a Wednesday as recently as last year, changing to accommodate the televising of the Democratic National Convention. (This was probably done as a personal favor to the President, who holds one of the few jobs in this country as important as NFL commissioner, although it pays far less).
The excuse for not opening on Sept. 4 is that it's the first night of Rosh Hashanah. Except that the NFL played on the first night of Rosh Hashanah last year.
Let's face it, right or wrong, no day of the year is too sacred to have sporting events played on it. One league or another plays on every important holiday, be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim or secular.
Thanksgiving, once reserved for giving thanks and family time, now revolves around the NFL tripleheader that goes pretty much from noon to midnight. Games are played on the days we mourn our fallen soldiers, and on days reserved to celebrate Presidents or other historical figures like Martin Luther King.
Some major sporting event is being contested every day of the year with the traditional exception of the day after the MLB All-Star Game, during that dead-zone known as mid-July - and don't put it past the NFL to stage some sort of supplemental draft/combine/quarterback fashion show for that night, too, as it continues on its quest to be the world's first year-round sports league.
Yes, they could've played on Rosh Hashanah. They didn't want to. And the NFL is used to getting its way. (If commissioner Roger Goodell decides, during the next TV negotiations, that he wants his own prime-time variety show, expect the networks to simply ask him which time slot he'd prefer.)
This was about the NFL digging in its cleats, as usual.
This is the league that makes season-ticket holders pay full price to watch the unwatchable, exhibition games in which established players play a few uninspired downs or sit out completely as undrafted free agents knock heads vying for a final roster spot.
This is a league that decided the New Orleans Saints ran a highly organized bounty program and that the coaches and players were going to pay dearly with lengthy suspensions, regardless of the evidence.
This is a league that decided the Redskins behaved in an improper fashion by spending too much during the non-salary cap season and punished them with a hefty cap penalty, even though it would've been collusion (and illegal) for the league's teams to get together and jointly refrain from spending.
It's a stubborn bunch at NFL headquarters. They staunchly denied for years that helmeted heads banging together might cause brain damage down the line and they refused to admit for more than a decade that the "tuck rule" made no sense.
Bottom line, they wanted to play on Thursday. They expected that everyone would acquiesce to their wishes. When that didn't happen, well, they still wanted to play on Thursday.
So the Ravens do get the privilege of playing in the first game of the season, they just get to travel to an enemy outpost in Denver or Pittsburgh or somewhere else to do so.
As for Baltimore and its fans, well, you know what they get.
Snubbed again by the league that allowed the Colts to leave with their colors and history in 1984, that passed over Charm City for Jacksonville of all places when expanding a decade later, and that, they feel, has consistently kept their team off prime spots on the TV schedule.
And, unfortunately, they'll likely make the Orioles the scapegoats.