In years past, the Ravens have gone to Gettysburg or a nearby movie theatre for a break from the grind of training camp.
This year, they're grabbing the popcorn and staying home.
The Ravens were fortunate enough to screen the Paramount and MGM mega-movie "Ben-Hur" Thursday afternoon. The film is scheduled to be released in mid-August, but the Ravens got an advance copy. They're the only professional sports team to get the pre-release.
The film, starring Jack Houston, Toby Kebbell and Morgan Freeman, is the fourth film adaptation of the 1880 novel "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ"* *by General Lew Wallace. The screeplay is by John Ridley.
"Ben-Hur" is a historical action film about a prince who is falsely accused of treason by his adoptive brother, an officer in the Roman army. He survives slavery under the Romans to get revenge by challenging his adoptive brother to a chariot race.
It looks pretty epic. This is how the Ravens ended up getting the sneak peek.
Vice President of Public Relations Chad Steele is friends with John Kilcullen, the Senior Vice President and General Manager at MGM. They, along with producer Roma Downey and her husband, Mark Burnett, got to talking one day about their next project in religious theater.
Steele told them how Head Coach John Harbaugh is strong in his faith and likes to find inspiration for his players in many different ways, often touching on faith and/or history. They came up with screening the film and Harbaugh jumped at the chance.
It took Kilcullen a lot of convincing, but ultimately MGM agreed to the screening … on one condition. A representative from the film company personally flew the DVD to Baltimore and will stay on hand to destroy it as soon as it's over, just to make sure it doesn't get out prior to the movie's premiere.
That's pretty hardcore. There better not be any rogue bootleggers in the audience (I'm looking at you, Terrell Suggs).
The movie was a complete surprise to the players, who thought they were preparing for their second practice of the day. For that reason alone, I'm betting they thought it was a hit.
"Really good," defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. "That was awesome."