Last season, Baltimore became the 15th of 48 Super Bowl victors to fail to reach the succeeding postseason. The Nevermores followed a Super Bowl trophy season with a missed-the-playoffs season partly owing to declining stats. In 2012, Baltimore was plus-16 in turnovers and allowed 44 sacks in 20 games. In 2013, the club was minus-4 in turnovers and allowed 48 sacks in 16 games. The offense tanked in 2013, dropping to 25th overall. The football gods stopped smiling on Baltimore. In the Super Bowl year, Baltimore completed incredible long plays in the waning seconds in games at San Diego and Denver. No such luck in 2013. Luck is a bigger factor in sports -- and in life -- than commonly acknowledged.
Joey Odoms, who served in Afghanistan, will sing the national anthem for Ravens home games this season. He can belt it out -- here he is auditioning in Afghanistan.
Over the summer, Joe Flacco said of football players, "We're not the brightest people, so therefore how hard can an NFL offense be?" He said this on the Ravens' own website!
Buffalo: The Bills will be sold by the estate of late owner Ralph Wilson. Buffalo has experienced a cycle of long-term economic decline, including population loss. Los Angeles, the nation's No. 2 television market, has no NFL franchise. Toronto, North America's fourth-largest city, is a cosmopolitan boom town with every major sport except the NFL. Doesn't it make sense to relocate the Bills?
Not necessarily. Because the NFL is more dependent on national television revenue than any other sport, where a team plays is not hugely important to business success. Green Bay-Appleton is the 70th-ranked television market in the United States, right below Wichita-Hutchinson, yet Packers financials are sound because so much revenue is attained from national television. Economically, keeping the Bills in Buffalo, where the cost of doing business is low, might actually be more appealing to the next owner than relocating to expensive Los Angeles or Toronto. (Las Vegas would be a different kettle of fish, but the NFL is deeply ambivalent about Sin City.)
The question is whether a new owner who keeps the Bills in Buffalo should get public subsidies for a new stadium. The ideal situation would be that the new owner pays for a new stadium. The notion that government should pay for pro sports facilities might have made sense in the 1960s, when there was hardly any money in sports; it makes little sense today when the NFL wallows in greenbacks. But if the question comes up, should government reach into the pockets of taxpayers to buy the Bills a new facility?
Wilson told me in 2009 that it was unrealistic to expect the city of Buffalo or surrounding Erie County to fund a new stadium for the Bills, owing to the area's weak tax base. So should Albany pay? The state of New York just finished pumping $90 million forcibly removed from taxpayers' pockets into upgrades to the Bills' current facility. The upgrades will increase concession revenue, meaning Empire State taxpayers who live far from Buffalo and may not care one whit about sports already have been taxed to make the Bills more profitable. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in June there would be further subsidies only if Buffalo really needs a new stadium, "which I am not convinced of."