- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2000

The Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens have laid down the swords in their three-month marketing skirmish, leaving Sunday's matchup at FedEx Field a football-only affair.
Peace between the two front offices, however, does not suggest total peace between the two teams. The game represents the first meaningful contest between Washington and Baltimore NFL teams since 1977, and presents a particularly big opportunity for the upstart Ravens. The Ravens, 5-1, top the AFC Central while the Redskins share the NFC East lead with a 4-2 mark.
Baltimore owner Art Modell would not call Sunday's game the franchise's most important since he moved the Cleveland Browns after the 1995 season. But since the Ravens haven't yet seriously approached the playoffs, a victory over the Redskins would go a long way toward removing the long shadow Washington has cast on the area since the Colts left in early 1984.
"I understand the sentiment in [Baltimore] that's there's a rivalry here. I understand that and I take it seriously," said David Modell, Art's son and Ravens president. "But ultimately, this is about football. If you're a 2-4 team and not very good, regional supremacy takes on greater importance. But we're 5-1. We've raised the bar. The fact that we have two very good football teams playing makes this important."
Art Modell and Redskins owner Dan Snyder claim no personal or professional relationship, but their organizations engaged in a nasty front office spat during the preseason. The Redskins advertised a scrimmage against the Ravens at FedEx Field and its new training camp at Redskin Park in Ashburn in Baltimore-area media. The move violated an unwritten agreement within the league to not advertise in another market.
The Ravens retaliated by advertising sponsorships and season tickets in Washington-area media, sparking a series of harsh verbal barbs.
Art Modell also had strong words for the Redskins in 1999, when Snyder hired marketing executive David Cope away from the Ravens without asking permission. The Redskins claimed Cope was not under contract. Cope stayed with the Redskins less than a year and went on to start his own company.
The elder Modell acknowledged yesterday that the marketing war should have never started.
"It got out of hand and built upon events taking place at the time," he said. "This market is certainly big enough for both teams, and it's tough enough to play the Redskins on the field without getting into a front office war with them. It's counterproductive to do otherwise."
Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson also said the cross-market advertising and front office tension are now dead issues.
"That was all simply to promote the scrimmage and our summer program. There's nothing to advertise [in Baltimore] now," Swanson said.
Fans of both teams, however, are already approaching a fever pitch of intensity for the game, ambushing each other's fan Web sites and sports talk shows to pick up the war of words their teams left behind.
"It is time to show once again who the best team in Maryland is," one Ravens fan wrote on the Redskins fan site Warpath. "It should come down to a battle of [field goal] kickers and we have the best in the league. And the Skins have who this week? Oh, wait, you're still in the process of figuring that out."
"Stop begging for a rivalry. You guys don't even register on the football radar," a Redskins fan retorted back on the site. "Nobody in D.C. or its environs gives a [hoot] about Baltimore one way or the other, and it makes you seem so insecure."
Because the two teams are in different conferences, their meetings occur only once every three years. And even when the Baltimore Colts and Redskins met annually during the 1950s and '60s, rarely were the two teams good at the same time.
The last important matchup between Washington and Baltimore NFL teams was a Monday night clash in November 1977 at Memorial Stadium. The Redskins were 4-3 at the time and seeking to reach the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons, the Colts 6-1 en route to a third straight AFC East title. Colts quarterback Bert Jones battled an ailing shoulder to lead his team to a 10-3 victory that helped derail the Redskins' postseason hopes.
The Colts and Redskins would play again in 1978 and 1981, when both were also-rans. The same can be said for 1997, when the undermanned Ravens beat the underachieving Redskins 20-17 in a driving rainstorm at then-Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. Both teams missed the playoffs that year.
Art Modell last week said his Ravens would be willing to relocate to any division in the NFL's planned realignment for 2002. He favors geographic alignment for the eight four-team divisions the league plans and called being placed in a division with the Redskins "intriguing." But he doubted the logistics would ever allow it to happen.
"It would take Albert Einstein to figure out how to make the television work. With the same network responsible for both team's games, you would have to make sure the two teams didn't play at the same time every week so you don't cannibalize your audience," he said. "You could do it with bye weeks, night games, Saturday games in December. But it would be very difficult."

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