This is absurd.
Several months after the Baltimore Orioles stiff armed the NFL after the NFL tried to bully their way into making Baltimore’s other birds reschedule their September 5th game against the Chicago White Sox to make room for the Ravens-Broncos Thursday night NFL season opener (catch your breath…), that Week 1 matchup is back in the news. The first game of the season—which has taken place at the home of the previous season’s Super Bowl champion—was shifted to Denver, which is sorta kinda a big deal in a way if you’re one that hates to veer away from tradition, but not what is causing a stir in the Mile High City No, not by a long shot.
The reason Denverites (?) aren’t happy (and rightfully so) is the fact that the NFL has started to deck out the stadium with all sorts of decorations for the game which includes an ENORMOUS banner of Joe Flacco. Granted, there’s an equally-large image of Peyton Manning opposite Flacco, this is still complete B.S. I mean, look at this thing:
For any fan, your home stadium is a source a pride, a home away from home, a place of worship if you will. For the NFL to waltz in and splash images of another team’s star player all over your turf should be seen as sacrilege. Not only is Flacco’s likeness on the side of Sports Authority Field, it’s also on nearly every other light post around the stadium and throughout the city of Denver…
…some of which have been vandalized. A local Denver sportscaster was even shown partaking in the Sharpie-ing of Flacco’s mug.
Just for a second, imagine that a giant banner of Tony Romo or Eli Manning or RGIII was plastered on the side of Lincoln Financial Field, or (for you Steel City fans) imagine these Flacco images were on the side of Heinz field, or if Claude Giroux’s face was all over Consol Energy Center. What real fan, in their right mind, wouldn’t be outraged by that? And let’s not forget about the fact that it was this same Ravens team (well, minus about 75% of last years roster, so calling them the same might be a bit of a stretch) that knocked the Broncos out of the playoffs on a miraculous overtime play, so forcing their fans to stare Flacco in the face in the days leading up to this rematch is just like ripping the scab off of a not-completely-healed wound, and then dumping a bucket of salt in there. It’s just not right.
Even Manning was caught off guard by the banners popping up around Denver: “Yes, it is [strange],” he told KOA 850 AM, the Broncos’ flagship radio affiliate, according to ESPN. “I’ve never heard of anything like that for a regular-season game.”
The NFL’s response to all of this? Pretty typical if you ask me:
“We appreciate the fans’ passion and their desire to protect their team but think of this game as more of an opening ceremony, a celebration of the new season for the entire league,” Brian McCarthy, NFL vice president of corporate communications, told ESPN. “This game will be viewed by an audience of millions and reflects the opening of the season. There will be similar banners hanging in Baltimore at the events there next week as well.”
Computer graphics have come a long way in the last several, um, decades. I’m pretty sure the NFL has enough monies that they could have used some CGI or other special effects to make it look like those images were actually there for the people watching at home, and saved the residents of Denver the heartache that they’re surely causing them.