Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne on Saturday reiterated that an ESPN "Outside the Lines" report on the team's handling of Ray Rice's assault case contained inaccuracies that the team will address next week.
Byrne, speaking during the second day of the team's Ray Rice jersey exchange that drew more than 7,000 fans as of noon Saturday and resulted in nearly 8,000 exchanges, said the team was focused on Sunday's game against Cleveland, despite being in uncharted territory.
"Our focus right now is — we only have 16 of these — we have to play football," Byrne said. "Some of us are going from here to the airport to get on a charter to go to Cleveland, so really, our focus is to put all the energy into beating the Browns, a division opponent, a very huge game for us. Then after that, the ESPN piece has inaccuracies and we want to address it, but we need to focus on the Browns first, then we'll address it after that."
Byrne did not outline what those inaccuracies were, or speak to Ravens' reaction to the report, though he said the team's side of the story does need to get out. ESPN reported, among other things, that team officials overruled coach John Harbaugh's desire to cut Rice after the February assault in Atlantic City, N.J., and that team officials knew the contents of the video and tried to keep it from surfacing while lobbying for leniency for Rice.
"This is clearly an unusual time for the franchise, and I think one thing we've tried to be historically, and I think it reflects in the way the fans react to us on a regular basis, is we've been transparent," Byrne said. "This is new territory for us, we're learning as we go but we do believe that the fans and the people of Baltimore do need to hear our side of the story, so there will be our side of the story. But I think we'll continue to try to be a transparent organization to the people in this area."
As of noon Saturday, Byrne said 7,115 fans entered M&T Bank stadium over the two-day Ray Rice jersey exchange. Byrne said the team anticipated around 5,000 for the two-day event, and gave out 5,595 replacement jerseys and 2,368 vouchers for replacements, with three hours of exchanges remaining.
Some materials in the jerseys are non-recyclable, so they will be given to companies that deal in scrap. Fans whose jerseys were determined inauthentic were given team memorabilia instead. Team officials did not give an exact cost for the exchange, but said estimates were over $250,000.