Greetings from Owings Mills, where the ice cream refrigerator says "Ice Cream is For Media Only," the sodas are free, there are separate bathrooms for men and women, the chairs are plush, the desks are luxurious, the media room is vast, the water is pleasantly chilled, the coffee is pleasantly hot and the central table is stacked high with pizza.
"Like night and day," said an area media member, when he saw my eyes open wide as I entered for the first time.
This has surely been written elsewhere, and some of you will surely ask yourselves "why is he writing about the media fixings, that's such a tired storyline, we don't care about the stupid lives of media members." So I'll keep this short.
"Did you see the putting green out front?" another media member just asked me. No, actually, I hadn't.
As for Redskins Park?
You pay for your sodas, there's one small bathroom that necessitates very stringent rules about how it may be used (if you get my drift), there are long institutional tables for the media members/elementary school students to very closely share--the working equivalent of a bathroom trough--and if you wanted to fit more than 20 or so people in the room, the oxygen levels would start being a concern. I'm sure they would bring us ice cream, if we offered $10 per cone.
"They're refilling the ice cream!" someone out here just told me.
As objective media persons, we're not supposed to take any of this offered free food, and we're certainly not supposed to base our coverage decisions or the tone of our coverage on such trifles as ice cream and plumbing. And I'm here not to stare at complimentary cans of soda, but to listen to a Chad Johnson conference call. I just figured I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the obvious differences between here and Redskins Park.
"We're at your service," one of the PR guys is announcing to the gathered media members right now. Oh, and now he's saying how they did two media training sessions with the players, explaining how important the media members are to their livelihoods.
One more thing: the outside of the Ravens complex looks like a fancy old-school downtown hotel, faux medieval, a little cheesy, but kind of fun. Redskins Park looks like an Ashburn office park, filled with the headquarters for the National Center for The Study of Exurban Growth and companies with names like Dynaflex and Erasure.