Most Ravens fans could probably name the backup center before the team president.
That's just fine by Dick Cass, who never wanted to be in the spotlight or get the credit. However, it's important that they understand the significance of Friday's retirement announcement for the organization.
Cass will take a long list of achievements into retirement. He spearheaded multiple upgrade projects at M&T Bank Stadium and the Under Armour Performance Center. He was a leader in the Ravens' community outreach in Baltimore, and in the team's social justice reform efforts.
I wasn't in a lot of those meetings, but what I can speak to is how beloved Cass is by those who work for the Ravens, and how integral he has been in building the lifeblood of this organization – its culture. Cass is the patriarch of the Ravens family.
It starts at the top, first with late Owner Art Modell and carried on by Steve Bisciotti. Bisciotti's first hire when he became the team's majority owner in 2004 was Cass. He has been the man, day in and day out, in the Under Armour Performance Center that has carried out that core family value.
Cass cares. After two years as an intern in 2009 and 2010, I was about to join the team full-time in 2011 when the NFL went into a lockout and the Ravens temporarily froze hiring. That meant that when I got into a minor dirt bike accident and broke my fibula, I wasn't yet enjoying the Ravens' health benefits.
Cass saw me on crutches and stopped to chat with me about what happened and how I was doing. Knowing that I was young/seemingly invincible and probably guessing (correctly) that I didn't have very good health insurance, Cass told me to forward my medical bills and the team would take care of it. Now you know why so many former interns sit in prominent positions for the Ravens, including their general manager and freshly-hired defensive coordinator.
Cass is calm. When you're covering the people you work for and you all care so passionately about what you do, there's bound to be some flare-ups. I've had my share. Every time, Cass listened, diffused, taught, and moved on. He's been a steady-handed, level-headed leader that balances a competitive football atmosphere. He makes us all better.
Cass is family. If you had a question or concern, Cass's office door was open. If not, just give a little knock. If your table in the cafeteria had an open chair, it didn't matter where you stood on the organizational hierarchy or what department you worked in, Cass was probably going to ask if he could join.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Cass monitored the data more than anyone in the building and sent us home for the safety of us and our families. The longer it went on, the more you could tell it hurt him not to have our big family all together. Now, as the pandemic's grip is starting to loosen once again, Cass, 76, will retire and spend more time with his real family. His work family sure will miss him.
As the Ravens look forward to a new leader in Sashi Brown, there's good reason to believe Baltimore is in good hands. Since the organization's inception in 1996, the Ravens have had two owners, two general managers, three head coaches and now three team presidents. That's the kind of leadership stability that signifies good decisions.