A Defendable Reason For Ravens' Tv Schedule

April 16, 2009|By DAVID STEELE

Defense wins championships. But it doesn't get eyeballs on the screen.

Hey, I'm only the messenger. Everybody in town wants to know why the Ravens come off an AFC championship game appearance and are on national television only three times. That's why. Defense is why the Ravens are the Ravens, and that has never made any team in any sport must-see TV.

Just ask the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs earlier this decade. Great defenses, great understanding of the fundamentals of winning - and in the NBA playoffs, they were the networks' twin nightmares. Like the Ravens, they were admired and appreciated, but nobody would go out of his way to watch them.

Yeah, it would be fun and comforting to imagine the league sticking it to Baltimore once again. Honestly, it's not that (as far as anybody knows, and stop right now; put down that Paul Tagliabue quote about building more museums). It's this - just because we could watch Ray Lewis meet a ball carrier in the hole all day and can't get enough of Joe Flacco converting on third down to Derrick Mason doesn't mean it's America's favorite flavor.

Offense sells tickets. Offensive players bring in ratings. Quarterbacks bring more juice than linebackers. Thus, the Cleveland Browns, 4-12 last season, Busts of the Year - but with Brady Quinn on the marquee - get on national TV twice.

Remember, both regular-season games between the Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers last season were on national TV, and although they were soaked with drama, they produced a total of 65 points - including overtime and a highly disputed touchdown. Six prime-time games last season featured at least as many points by themselves.

Granted, you don't have to like it. Winning, especially in the playoffs, should count more. There are certain perks of success, and prime-time exposure is one of them. If it makes you feel any better, the Arizona Cardinals are on only three times, too, and they made it to the Super Bowl. Nah, it doesn't make you feel any better, does it?

Set Pittsburgh aside for now - and set aside that Ben Roethlisberger is an automatic draw. Here's who lines up on the other nine teams that get more national face time than the Ravens: Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Eli Manning, LaDainian Tomlinson, Tom Brady, Tony Romo and Jay Cutler. Of course, you have to stir in the usual ingredients of big markets and big followings, the Dallases and New Yorks and the like. But it's not that hard to figure out, really.

(Yes, we left out the Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins, the two teams the Ravens beat in the playoffs last season and who have, respectively, Kerry Collins and Chad Pennington under center. You might have a case here. Is it the Wildcat formation? Are the networks banking on a Vince Young cameo? Is the sight of Bill Parcells in a luxury box that enticing?)

Still, it's all right. Bring the blood pressure down. Defense might be sexy to us, but not to the rest of the nation. So seeing a third of the NFL getting on prime time more often than the Ravens is no reason to crank up the conspiracy theories.

Then again, their three appearances take place in a span of four weeks, late in the season, and two are on the road. Hmmmmm ...

Listen to David Steele on Mondays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. on Fox Sports 1370 AM.

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