The Ravens probably have enough on their plate right now, what with a new coach and a new quarterback and Derrick Martin's recent citation for alleged marijuana possession and impersonation of a Cincinnati Bengal, but they still found time to run afoul of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
PETA has sent a letter of protest to Ravens vice president for marketing Gabrielle Dow concerning the team's plan to feature a pair of actual ravens during pre-game player introductions at M&T; Bank Stadium during the coming season.
"We have received numerous complaints from people who are gravely concerned and upset that the Baltimore Ravens are planning to feature live African white nape ravens (members of the Corvidae family) at upcoming games, including having the birds fly out of smoky tunnel," wrote Kristie Phelps, PETA's assistant director of the group's Animals in Entertainment Campaign. "After carefully considering the following information, we urge you to cancel plans to feature live birds immediately and implement a policy prohibiting the use of live animals at all Ravens games."
The letter cites the "sheer intensity" of a Ravens football game, which proves - at the very least - that Ms. Phelps did not attend last season's game in Miami. She goes on to lecture the team on the potential negative consequences for the performing birds if they are placed in a stadium environment.
"[The] bright lights, screaming fans, and loud noises - such as air horns, bands, and amplified sound systems - are terrifying for animals who can't possibly understand what is going on," the letter goes on. "Regardless of how these birds are trained, they are likely to be severely distressed by the overwhelming confusion of the situation."
To which, I have to ask, why should they be any different than Kyle Boller?
(OK, that was a little mean-spirited, but you were all thinking the same thing, and Kyle is a fun guy who likes a good laugh as much as anyone, so I'm pretty sure he'll still talk to me during training camp.)
The notion that the ornithologically correct ravens will be psychologically damaged by a stadium environment is a little bit out there, especially considering how many birds voluntarily nest at ballparks and stadiums. But I'm going to throw in my lot with the animal-rights people because I think it's terribly cruel for humans to exploit animals for crass entertainment purposes, unless I get a real good tip on a long shot at Laurel.
If PETA wants to stage one of those nude protests in the parking lot at Camden Yards before the Ravens regular season opener, I'm going to be there to show my full support and try out my new digital camera. If Pamela Anderson cares enough about a couple of glorified crows to come to Baltimore and show off what God and Dow Corning gave her, I'm willing to stand right there beside her and try not to gawk too much.
It's probably no surprise to anyone that I've had a major crush on Pam since the Home Improvement years. I think she should have gotten an Oscar for Barb Wire and a Nobel Prize for her many years of research in the field of cosmetic enhancement. The fact that she has a social conscience is just a bonus.
So I was heartbroken to hear she is embroiled in a feud with my other favorite highbrow actress, Jessica Simpson. Pamela blasted Simpson for being photographed in a T-shirt reading "Real Women Eat Meat," and her comment was so crude that I can't even relate it here. I found it refreshing that Jessica is the kind of down-to-earth girl you can take to the Steak 'n Shake after you fumble away a big playoff game, but that apparently offended Pam's vegetarian sensibilities.
Before I wade too much further into this stream of consciousness, I should point out that I did contact the Ravens for a reaction, and they appear willing to ride out the controversy.
Club officials did not want to inflame the situation with an incendiary comment, but I was referred to the long list of other sports entities that use real animals in their promotions and pre-game activities.
The Naval Academy trots a goat onto the field before every game. The Air Force Academy has a live falcon. The University of Colorado has a real buffalo.
The most strident PETA activists object to the whole concept as a form of animal oppression, and the group encourages teams to stick with costumed mascots.
"If the Ravens want to increase fan support, they don't need cheap gimmicks. They just need to start winning games," PETA director Debbie Leahy said in a statement accompanying the release of the letter to the media. "Edgar Allan Poe would be spinning in his grave if he knew that his poem had prompted Baltimore to harm ravens in the name of marketing."
Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon most Saturdays and Sundays.