The Ravens had fans at only one game in 2020, but Head Coach John Harbaugh envisions a much different 2021 season as there seems to be light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic tunnel.
Harbaugh said he's heard nothing official about whether fans will be back at M&T Bank Stadium but "I'll go on record saying that it's absolutely going to happen."
"I mean, come on. That's a no-brainer to me," Harbaugh said. "Unless something crazy happens, and you can never say for sure in the world, but as far as COVID-19 is concerned, just look at what our scientists have done. We have the vaccine. It's killing it; the vaccine is doing a great job."
The Baltimore Orioles announced Friday that they will begin the season at 25% capacity at Camden Yards, which is approximately 11,000 fans. They will still be in observance of social distancing and approved capacity limits.
Earlier this week, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan lifted capacity limits at restaurants and large outdoor venues, allowing for 50% capacity, while keeping the state's mask mandate. Harbaugh is more than ready for the re-opening of the state.
"It's time to get back to work. It's time to get back to school. It's time to get back to practice," Harbaugh said. "It's time to get back to life, period. That's my statement on that."
Harbaugh is also hopeful that the Ravens will be allowed to have on-field practices for Organized Team Activities and minicamp this offseason. It was all virtual last year, and it has yet to be announced whether that will remain in effect again.
"There are some things that can be virtual that would be good, but if [NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is] talking about not practicing our players, that would be a colossal mistake," Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh said young players, and especially quarterbacks, need the on-field practice time to hone their craft. He also cited player safety as a reason to retake the field, saying it takes reps to practice proper tackling, for example.
"If you think you can just go to training camp and develop as a quarterback, that's fantasyland. And those quarterbacks are not going to be able to line up and play successfully and have any chance against the defenses they're going to be playing against and move the ball down the field. That can be really ugly football – I promise you," Harbaugh said.
"The quality of the game is really important. The quality of the product, if you want to look at it from a business standpoint, is really important. NFL fans are accustomed to seeing really good football, and they're not going to be OK with these young players not being prepared and not being ready to go out there and be successful."