Ravens fans know it well: the credo that is displayed on the SMARTVISION Board at every home game. The behavior expected of all fans on gamedays is laid out in many ways, but it can be summed up in four signature words:
"Don't be a jerk!"
The NFL doesn't want its fans to be jerks either, as emphasized by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. This is why the NFL recently issued a fan code of conduct to help promote a positive fan environment in all NFL stadiums. It was designed to set clear expectations of fans and encourage a gameday environment enjoyable for everyone. Teams will be allowed to add provisions as necessary, but the Baltimore Ravens will likely not feel the need: they've had an official fan conduct code in place since their first season in 1996.
This new code of conduct is the first of its kind to be so detailed, putting the Ravens 12 years ahead of the curve.
"We're in pretty good shape," said Vice President of Stadium Operations Roy Sommerhof, referring to the Ravens Fan Credo. Many of the major points the league is emphasizing the Ravens have been doing for years.
"Anytime you bring 70,000 people together, with different personalities and only 21 inches of space for each of them, there are going to be issues," Sommerhof said. The Ravens Fan Credo is the team's method of minimizing those incidents. Security and Baltimore City Police have always been on hand during games.
The "Don't be a jerk!" mantra is a staple of the credo, and is shouted out by the fans in unison when it is displayed on the SMARTVISION board during the first quarter. The saying was originally thought up by Senior Vice President of Public and Community Relations Kevin Byrne, who affectionately refers to it as his "legacy."
It originated in meetings with former Ravens President David Modell, when he and Byrne wanted to deliver a message to the fans when they moved into the new stadium in 1998.
"It goes right to the crux of it," Byrne offered, saying it sums up all the poor behavior the Ravens won't tolerate at games in a few short words. "It's a message from fan to fan, that they're here to have a good time." Modell originally believed the message to be too stern, but about halfway through the 1998 season, fans started to shout it out along with PA Announcer Bruce Cunningham during the first quarter. It has become a tradition at Ravens' games ever since, as well as a strong reminder of what is expected of all fans on gamedays.
The new league-wide code of conduct will be communicated to fans and season-ticket holders of the 32 clubs via mailings, online messages, in-stadium signage, and other methods. The newest method to minimize poor conduct is a text messaging alert system, whereby fans can text the seat section where a problem is occurring to a number that will be displayed on the SMARTVISION screen. This will allow problems to be reported anonymously and without any awkward confrontations.
"The in-stadium experience is critically important to the NFL, our clubs and our fans and it will be a major focus this season," said Goodell. "We are committed to improving the fan experience in every way we can – from the time fans arrive in the parking lot to when they depart the stadium. We want everyone to be able to come to our stadiums and enjoy the entire day."
As stated by the NFL, the code of conduct is intended to address behavior that detracts from the gameday experience. Fans may be subject to ejection without refund and loss of ticket privileges for future games if they were to violate these provisions.
The NFL and its clubs will also evaluate fan feedback and previously-existing programs to ensure their effectiveness, while continuing to develop this new code of conduct. These codes are in place to ensure the gameday experience at M&T Bank Stadium and around the league are as enjoyable as possible. Fans would be well served to follow this lead and, as the credo goes: "don't be a jerk."
The NFL Fan Code of Conduct
The National Football League and its teams are committed to creating a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable experience for all fans, both in the stadium and in the parking lot. We want all fans attending our games to enjoy the experience in a responsible fashion. When attending a game, you are required to refrain from the following behaviors:
- Behavior that is unruly, disruptive, or illegal in nature
- Intoxication or other signs of alcohol impairment that results in irresponsible behavior
- Foul or abusive language or obscene gestures
- Interference with the progress of the game (including throwing objects onto the field)
- Failing to follow instructions of stadium personnel
- Verbal or physical harassment of opposing team fans
Event patrons are responsible for their conduct as well as the conduct of their guests and/or persons occupying their seats. Stadium staff will promptly intervene to support an environment where event patrons, their guests, and other fans can enjoy the event free from the above behavior. Event patrons and guests who violate these provisions will be subject to ejection without refund and loss of ticket privileges for future games.
The Ravens Fan Credo
When you attend a game at M&T Bank Stadium, you should expect a great deal from this event.
You should expect the players' best efforts on and off the field, and in keeping with that theme, the best efforts from the concessionaires, ticket takers, ushers and parking attendants.
If you do not get that effort, please let us know.
For those ticket buyers who interfere with another fan's ability to enjoy our games, please know that unruly or illegal behavior will not be tolerated.
Have fun, root hard, show respect for the fans around you, but… don't be a jerk.
For those ticket buyers who fail to maintain proper decorum, here are the realities:
- First-time offenders will be ejected from the stadium immediately.
- Second-time offenders will lose their season tickets.
- Fans who jump onto the field during the game will be arrested for trespassing.
Respect those around you and help make M&T Bank Stadium the best place to enjoy the NFL.
Became part of the Ravens' 12th man!