Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bright Lights, Cin City

Aretha asked for it. Rodney never got it. But after a year spent in the shadows of the NFL spotlight, the Ravens may have finally received it. In the immortal words of Ali G – Respek.

The league announced its Kickoff Weekend schedule last week and low and behold, your Baltimore Ravens were up on the marquee. Of course they will be sharing the stage with a full 25% of the NFL, including a rare Monday Night Football double header with the Cardinals and 49ers battling in the bay area in the nightcap. But on September 10th, 2007 at 7PM EST, the eyes of the nation will be on the AFC North as the Ravens visit the Cincinnati Bengals.

Unfortunately, Monday nights boast a brutal line up of entertainment options that even make Jerry Bruckheimer sweat. CSI Caruso is just the beginning as Heroes, How I Met Your Mother, Two and Half Men, Prison Break, and 24 all grab their fare share of Nielsen numbers. If we’re lucky, Jack Bauer could take the fall off to eat and use the bathroom, but ABC is usually good for a reality show or two – Bachelorettes, Ice Dancing with the Stars, who knows. Throw in Howie Mandel and at least one more NBC drama (Studio 60 and The Black Donnelly’s are waging a ratings war as we speak) and it might not be the entire country tuned in to NFL action live from Ohio.

There is still cause for optimism, however, because ESPN will most likely tout the debut of Jaws on Monday Night Football all summer long and the sports world is itching for in depth film review of last year’s classic Thursday Night Thriller between these two division rivals. Although that game was played in a monsoon and every Vegas vet won the under, so the analysis may only take us through the coin toss.

But we are headed to The Queen City. And with an evening start time, the entire day is left open to experience all the city has to offer. You could take a tour of Proctor & Gamble’s headquarters. Or the United States Playing Card Company in nearby Norwood, OH. You could take a boat ride along the famed beaches of the Kentucky coast. Or grab a bowl of chili as Cincinnati boasts more chili restaurants than any other city in the world. Seriously. Their tagline, “All together surprising” is dead on.

No matter how you look at it, after a 13-3 season in 2006, the Ravens have earned some respect among the schedule makers who apparently think fantasy football fanatics are ready to embrace the concept of IDP’s (Individual Defensive Players). The Charm City was also rewarded for their strong season of support with a nationally televised exhibition game on August 19th against the Giants live from Baltimore. The remaining regular season schedule will be released later this month, but for now, Ravens fans can take solace in the fact that after a year of feeling jacked, so far this off-season they’ve received the royal treatment. It all starts with the Queen.

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