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Orioles won't budge; Ravens season opener will be on the road

By John Breech | CBSSports.com

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John Harbaugh and the Ravens will be the first Super Bowl champ since 2003 to open the following season on the road. (USATSI)

Since 2004, the defending Super Bowl champion has kicked off the following NFL season with a Thursday night home game. However, thanks to some failed negotiations between the Orioles, the Ravens, MLB and the NFL, that won't be happening in 2013.

The Orioles announced on Friday that their Sept. 5 game against the White Sox will start at 7:05 p.m. ET as previously scheduled, meaning the defending champion Ravens will have to hit the road to start the 2013 season.

"The Orioles have great respect for the Super Bowl Champion Ravens and thank Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association, and the White Sox for doing everything possible to work with us to explore all options to reschedule the September 5 game," the Orioles said in a statement. "Given the limited options available to reschedule the game at that late date in the season, the parties jointly determined that even an earlier start time would still create such enormous logistical difficulties that it would greatly diminish the fan experience for both events which all parties realized would not be in the interest of their fans or the City.”

Although everyone in Baltimore will probably blame the Orioles and Orioles fans will probably blame Bud Selig, the Ravens have chosen to take the high road.

"After thorough discussions among the Orioles, the NFL and the Ravens, it became clear that holding both an Orioles' game and the Ravens' regular season opener on the same day would create logistical situations that would cause serious issues for the city of Baltimore, and fans for both teams," Ravens president Dick Cass. "The Ravens greatly appreciate the willingness of the Orioles to adjust the start of their game in an effort to make this sports spectacular happen. But, in the end, anticipated problems with parking, rush-hour traffic, plus crowd and car congestion around Oriole Park and M&T Bank Stadium, will keep the doubleheader from taking place."

With the move, the Ravens will now become the first defending champion to open on the road since Tampa Bay opened at Philadelphia in 2003. The NFL opener has been held on Thursday night in each season since 2004, except for last season when it was held on Wednesday to avoid conflict with President Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention.

The NFL had previously ruled out moving the game to Wednesday night this season because it conflicts with Rosh Hashanah.

The Ravens opponent for the season opener hasn't been announced yet and if you look at Baltimore's schedule, there aren't too many intriguing possibilities. The Ravens' road schedule includes games against Denver, Detroit, Miami, Chicago, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Denver, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh would seem to be the early favorites, although the Bengals could be ruled out because the Reds have a Sept. 5 home game scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m. ET.

If the Ravens had opened at home, the options would have included five playoff teams from last season, including: New England, Green Bay, Minnesota, Cincinnati and Houston.

Keep your eye on everything NFL by following John Breech on Twitter: @JohnBreech.


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