In an attempt to erase all memory of Ray Rice from Baltimore’s collective consciousness, the Ravens held two opportunities for fans to swap their number 27 jerseys for a different one over the weekend. But with nearly two hours left in the first day of the exchange and the line stretching a quarter of the way around M&T Bank Stadium, some fans were left holding just a voucher instead of the jersey they had hoped for.
Supplies started running low in male sizes a little more than halfway through the first day, and by 10 a.m. on the second, fans with female sizes faced the same choice: an Elvis Dumervil jersey or a voucher that would get you a jersey at another exchange next month.
Most fans heading to the second day of the exchange were aware they would most likely have to come back next month after the Ravens explained the situation in a release on their website last night.
One man leaving with a voucher said he was aware that supplies were low, and was not looking forward to having to return for a second day of waiting.
“Yeah, love that. Get to come back in another month and wait in line again. Should be a lot of fun,” he said.
Fans will be able to return to the stadium late next month, Oct. 25, to cash it in. Only vouchers will be accepted on that day, a customer service representative for the Ravens said.
The line for the exchange started at the Gate A entrance on Hamburg street, near where the new Ray Lewis statue was recently unveiled, and stretched around the stadium to Gate B near the light rail station.
After waiting outside, fans were brought into the concourse to have their jersey inspected for authenticity. Anyone who brought a jersey deemed “unofficial” was given a ticket for the gift table, which contained hats, flags and other small memorabilia.
“This is something really nice that the Ravens organization is doing,” a member of the event staff reminded everyone waiting in line, but some did not see it as an even trade.
“My sister got it for me as a Christmas present, and she was stationed overseas so I don’t know where she got it,” said one frustrated fan leaving with her Rice jersey still in hand. “They wouldn’t take it, after waiting in line for two hours, because of the stitching. So it was either this or a little flag.”
One man, after hustling up to the line and asking how long the wait was, balked at the two-hour average and said in a defeated voice, “Well, I guess I’ll just have to wear my Rice jersey for a little while longer.”
There were differences of opinion on Rice’s actions and the reaction by the NFL and Ravens organization among those attending the event, but no one seemed interested on holding onto a #27 jersey long term, despite a few people wearing theirs until they reached the end of the line.
“I don’t feel good about what [Rice] did,” Bowie resident Sean Davis said on his way out. “It didn’t feel appropriate to wear his jersey.”
Davis said he had to take half a day off from work in order to make the drive and stand in line before making the trade.
“I saw it as an opportunity to just get a new jersey,” said one fan leaving the stadium. “What he did wasn’t right, but I don’t agree with everything the league did to him.”
One fan, Deni Tabor, got to the stadium early to exchange her daughter’s jersey and ended up with an Elvis Dumervil.
“Well I got here at 8:30 a.m. and I’m just getting out,” she said on here way out of the stadium at 10 a.m. “My daughter mailed me her jersey, she lives over on the West Coast. All of the players on the list of names she gave me were gone so I got her this one. Most people are very disappointed because they are leaving with just a voucher. I’m leaving with this jersey I hope my daughter likes.”