OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are used to hundreds of raucous fans at training camp.
The cheers have gone silent amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team will also not host fans at M&T Bank Stadium for at least the initial part of the 2020 season after consulting with government officials and public health experts.
That could make for a surreal environment.
"It’s something we’re going to have to adjust to," cornerback Tavon Young said. "But at the end of the day, we’ve got to play football, and we have to do our jobs. We have to do what we do. But ‘Ravens Flock,’ we love you, and we can’t wait to get you all back in there.”
In recent weeks, Ravens officials submitted proposals to the offices of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Baltimore City Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young, detailing the team could safely host 7,500 fans at M&T Bank Stadium in downtown Baltimore.
However, even with the implementation of advanced safety measures and enhanced COVID-19 protocols, based on the recommendations of public health experts the Ravens have determined that, for the time being, "it is in the best interest of the general public and our organization that fans not attend games.
NFL teams will be allowed to use ambient fan noise during games. The Ravens are in the process of ensuring they are following the guidelines with the use of their speakers.
"My understanding of it is, is that the ambient crowd noise is required," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "It’s at a certain decibel level, and it has to be kept at that level as background sound the whole game. That’s what my understanding of it is. So, if it’s different or changes, then it will be different, or it will change. Then beyond that, you have the ability to put music up until 15 seconds before the snap – 15 seconds on the play clock. I don’t know how loud that can be. So, we’ll be looking into that, and just try to figure out what makes the most sense for us and just move forward on it.
"It’s not the biggest deal in the world. I’m not worried about it in any way. I don’t think it’s going to matter. I think playing well, and playing winning football is what really matters. But it will be interesting to see how it plays out.”
In the end, the empty stadium will have a bigger impact on the fans who will have to find another game-day ritual with tailgating and watching the games in-person.
“That’s a bummer," defensive end Derek Wolfe said. "I’m more bummed out for the fans themselves because they’re not going to get to [go]. Who knows? Maybe a couple of games in we might be able to start letting some fans in. Maybe by the end of the season, going to the playoffs, we’ve got a full packed stadium.
"You never know what’s going to happen in the future. But I do, I feel worse for the fans than I do for myself. Because, to me, I’m out there to do a job. Whether people are screaming and yelling for me or not, I’m going to do that job.”