I'm not talking about deer antlers and Ray Lewis. That is a distraction, for sure, but it is not one that seems to have blindsided the team.
This is about the avoidable situation involving cheerleader Courtney Lenz.
The Baltimore Sun's Jill Rosen published an article that talks about the cheerleader being left out of the Super Bowl festivities and the ensuing online petition aimed at getting her to the Super Bowl.
Lenz, 23, has been with the Ravens for five years. The petition states:
"The director [and] front office explained they could only take 32 members of the squad and all 3+ year veterans would be going."
The petition declares that Lenz, during the Ravens' last home game, informed the team she would be retiring at the end of this season and claims that her announcement "didn't go well with the director."
Also, the petition maintains that Lenz had been benched earlier this year for a two-pound weight gain.
Despite the petition receiving the support of "thousands" (according to Rosen), the Ravens do not appear to be switching their stance. In fact, they appear to only be getting more defiant.
In the petition itself, it is stated that Lenz was informed to turn in her uniform on Jan. 27.
Not surprisingly, the Ravens have their own take on the developments. This statement from the club comes to us via Eliza Murhpy of ABC News:
As set by the NFL, we are permitted to bring 32 cheerleaders to the Super Bowl. Our selection process was based upon three criteria: seniority, performance ability and personal conduct throughout the season. As much as we would like to take the whole team, we are unable to do so, due to parameters set by the NFL.
The Ravens have the right to adjust their cheerleading squad as they see fit, and who knows what went on behind the scenes between these two parties? I'm not here to say who is right or wrong in this situation—I don't have enough information to know.
Still, this is one instance where the Ravens should have been more concerned with limiting any potential controversy surrounding the team.
In Murphy's report, Lenz states she was the only cheerleader with three-plus years of service to be left off the Super Bowl roster. If this is true, the Ravens surely had to realize there was a potential for controversy.
The Ravens should have just included her, looked past whatever problems they had with Lenz and made sure the entire franchise was locked in on the goal of doing everything possible to put the team in its best position to beat the 49ers and claim the Lombardi Trophy.