Maryland area NFL teams keep military in mind during season

Service members are recognized during a Baltimore Ravens game. Credit: Baltimore Ravens

With the NFL’s first week of games in the books, football season is in full swing in Maryland.

In a pair of division rivalry match-ups, the Baltimore Ravens shut out the Cincinnati Bengals, 20-0, while the Washington Redskins lost to the nearby Philadelphia Eagles in their home opener, 30-17.

The Ravens will host their first home game of the year this Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, against the Cleveland Browns, while the Redskins return home Sept. 24 for a showdown against the rising Oakland Raiders.

For both teams, the military is kept in mind when organizing games and the annual calendar.

“It’s something we feel like we have to do, for what they do for us and for our country,” said Tony Wyllie, senior vice president of communications for the Redskins. “This is the least that we can do.”

Each NFL team hosts a Salute to Service game each season to recognize military members. The Redskins’ date is Nov. 12, their week 10 match against the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. High ranking generals are guests of the team’s owner and will sit in his box, while military personnel will perform the national anthem and serve as an honorary team captain.

Most details for the game have yet to be announced, said Ginny Jurgensen, the team’s senior manager of affinity marketing, but the team will have 150 military members from the local area unfurl a field-sized American flag during pregame ceremonies.

During each home game, usually during the first quarter, the Redskins recognize a member of the military on the scoreboard to honor someone for his or her service.

“Everyone gives them a standing ovation to give them the honor they deserve,” Wyllie said.

The team also has a year-round Redskins Salute military appreciation program that is free for active-duty sevice members, veterans and their families.

Traditionally, the Ravens select a hometown hero who receives tickets to each home game, pre-game sideline passes and the opportunity to personally deliver the game ball to the NFL referee before the game.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh maintains a strong relationship with the military. He often invites groups to practices, donates tickets, and most recently sent a plethora of NFL hats to service members oversea, said Kelly Quinlan, a team spokesperson.

Military initiatives on game day include participation in the color guard by joint forces and Vietnam War veterans, Seats for Service and flyovers, Quinlan said.

Seats for Service is a program in which the Ravens honor a group, such as the military, first responders, veterans and Wounded Warriors. The group receives a pregame field visit and tickets to the game in five specially designed seats. A sixth seat within the row remains ceremoniously unoccupied and represents the POW/MIA tradition honoring Prisoners of War or service members Missing in Action.

Ravens schedule

Game times and television networks are subject to change.

Sept. 17: vs. Browns, 1 p.m., CBS

Sept. 24: at Jaguars in London, 9:30 a.m., TV TBD

Oct. 1: vs. Steelers, 1 p.m., CBS

Oct. 8: at Raiders, 4:05 p.m., CBS

Oct. 15: vs. Bears, 1 p.m., FOX

Oct. 22: at Vikings, 1 p.m., CBS

Oct. 26: vs. Dolphins, 8:25 p.m. CBS, NFL Network, Amazon

Nov. 5: at Titans, 1 p.m., CBS

Nov. 19: at Packers, 1 p.m., CBS

Nov. 27: vs. Texans, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Dec. 3: vs. Lions, 1 p.m., FOX

Dec. 10: at Steelers, 8:30 p.m., NBC

Dec. 17: at Browns, 1 p.m., CBS

Dec. 23: vs. Colts, 4:30 p.m., NFL Network

Dec. 31: vs. Bengals, 1 p.m., CBS

Redskins schedule

Game times and television networks are subject to change.

Sept. 17: at Rams, 4:25 p.m., FOX

Sept. 24: vs. Raiders, 8:30 p.m., NBC

Oct. 2: at Chiefs, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Oct. 15: vs. 49ers, 1 p.m., FOX

Oct. 23: at Eagles, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Oct. 29: vs. Cowboys, 4:25 p.m., FOX

Nov. 5: at Seahawks, 4:05 p.m., FOX

Nov. 12: vs. Vikings, 1 p.m., FOX

Nov. 19: at Saints, 1 p.m., FOX

Nov. 23: vs. Giants, 8:30 p.m., NBC

Nov. 30: at Cowboys, 8:25 p.m., NBC

Dec. 10: at Chargers, 4:05 p.m., CBS

Dec. 17: vs. Cardinals, 1 p.m., FOX

Dec. 24: vs. Broncos, 1 p.m., CBS

Dec. 31: at Giants, 1 p.m., FOX

By Jon Bleiweis, APG News