Fans lined up around the block in front of M&T Bank Stadium on Friday to take advantage of the Baltimore Ravens’ offer to return their Ray Rice jerseys.
Last week the Ravens announced that fans that had purchased a Ray Rice jersey would be able to exchange the shirt for another player’s. This week thousands of fans took the team up on the offer.
The return line wrapped nearly around the stadium, and by one fan’s account it took an hour and 40 minutes to get to the service window.
The Baltimore Sun asked several folks in the line about their thoughts on the whole Rice situation. One fan expressed a common sentiment. “What [Rice] did wasn’t right, and I don’t want to wear a jersey of a player who acted like that,” 19-year-old Zachary Blankenship, the first in line, told the paper. “He was my favorite player. I could care less about him now.”
Fans are not getting their money back, though. Team officials allowed an exchange for the jersey of any other player. The team also promised that if the jersey they wanted was sold out then they would get a voucher for when the item was next re-stocked.
This jersey exchange offer is not the first time a team has allowed fans to return the jersey of a disgraced player. Last year the New England Patriots allowed fans to return jerseys after police arrested the tight end Aaron Hernandez for murder.
The Ravens won’t replace just any Ray Rice jersey, though. The returned shirts must be made by either Reebok or Nike, must be officially licensed by the NFL, and have been a product sold at the stadium or on the team’s website.
But Ravens management did allow fans with unofficial shirts to turn their jerseys in for a designated piece of team memorabilia.
The jersey exchange is said to have gone smoothly and many in line were happy with the service. But not everyone in sports was complimentary of the offer.
Time magazine’s Jack Dickey called the jersey swap an example of “unearned absolution.”
Dickey said that these jersey swaps and the “unyielding support” that people have for their NFL teams “is what leads the NFL to believe it can conduct itself however it likes, apparently lying to even its most loyal reporters.”
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