The Baltimore Ravens were knocked out of the playoffs by the Cincinnati Bengals, 31-27 at M&T Bank Stadium. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)
There has been a lot written in these pages in recent days about the empty seats at M&T Bank Stadium and what might be the cause (“Lack of respect from Ravens ownership leads to empty seats,” Dec. 29). Let's not neglect the NFL's absolute indifference to its fans who actually attend these games, in deference to those who watch it on TV.
Last Sunday's game was flexed to 4:30 p.m. from a 1 p.m. start. I understand that this is the league's prerogative, but to do this on New Year's Eve and with less than one week's notice most certainly inconvenienced a great number of Ravens fans who may have had the audacity to make other plans. It was also a dangerously cold day. With wind chill numbers approaching zero, pushing the game into the evening hours only made things worse. These are inconveniences. My primary complaint is that the commercial breaks and even the halftime duration were extended noticeably to a point where it was likely impacting not only the comfort of the fans but also the quality of play.
The first quarter actually had over 15 minutes of television timeouts, (yes, I was so annoyed I checked). George Will once famously quipped that football represents everything wrong with America — endless committee meetings punctuated by brief bursts of violence. TV timeouts only make this worse. My friends who don't attend the games aren't put out by all the dead time; they say it gives them time to check into the "Red Zone" or make a beer or bathroom run. My comment to the NFL is if you are wondering why more than half of NFL games no longer sell out, and why there are thousands of empty seats in NFL strongholds such as Baltimore and Pittsburgh, start paying a bit of attention to the fans in attendance and a little less to CBS, Fox and ESPN.