“What did do you do wrong, Nestor?” “Why would the Ravens throw you out?” “Why are you the only one in the local media whom they’ve thrown out?” “Why has Chad Steele singled you out?” “WHAT DID YOU DO WRONG!?!” I am fed up with these questions from Baltimore sports fans so I wrote to the billionaire owner because these questions are his to answer. Letters to John Harbaugh and Eric DeCosta are also coming soon.
I must begin by saying that the complete lack of integrity and honesty you and several executives of the Baltimore Ravens franchise have shown in recent years has really shocked me. Not the fanboy in me or the lifer journalist in me: the human in me.
As I begin my second season “on the outside” as a non-media member after 26 seasons of covering your team (home and away) as a local journalist, it’s time to write to you with some uncomfortable truths after investigating my own professional extermination and the revocation of my “license” to practice local sports journalism at the hands of your employee’s personal vendetta – and with your tacit approval.
On the streets of Baltimore, lifelong sports fans ask me: “Why would Bisciotti do the same thing to you that Angelos did? I thought he was a better person.” (For the record, I tell them: “So did I.”)
Steve, that is not a compliment, having your integrity associated with tyranny. In my recent experience in dealing with the lies and intent of several of your executives, your franchise has been transparently sleazy in its dealings with me. The attempt to usurp my credibility, call the rest of the teams in the NFL and the league itself to have me blackballed and the lack of accountability to answer for any of it by Chad Steele is jaw-dropping from a $5 billion entity that just took $600 million of free public money that Annapolis gifted you.
I didn’t have bullying the only local media member who bought tickets to every game you ever played as part of your legacy.
You and I have had private conversations about the legacy of Peter G. Angelos and you swore to me that night in my condo back in September 2005 that you didn’t want your legacy to be tied to doing awful things. (You had a more colorful phrase for him but why nitpick?) Let’s just say that you and I both agreed that your bar should be far higher than that of the modern Angelos Orioles. (And this was before you complimented my efforts following Free The Birds in 2006 and long before Keith Urban came to town and you got shipped to Denver after the parade in 2013, still the most despicable thing that Peter ever did to Baltimore sports fans – or you – besides everything else.)
I stood up for you then. I spoke and wrote truth. I was the only one. Everyone else was afraid of losing their Orioles press credential.
I really thought you and your NFL franchise had a lot more class and integrity than the folks at Camden Yards, which is why I bought PSLs, Ravens tickets for a generation (home and away) and dedicated my life and business to professionally covering and leading civic enthusiasm for your football team since 1996 via my company at WNST-AM 1570 and Baltimore Positive. As a community member – or what you’d call a “stakeholder” in the Baltimore Ravens – I foolishly believed in your personal integrity all along the timeline during and after the COVID plague while I was being professionally bullied by your employee in your presence, and in the witness of other team executives and then with your knowledge of my gratuitous eradication.
I honestly believed you wouldn’t be a party to exterminating legitimate media members. I thought you had more integrity than that, more respect for our profession and more respect for me and my audience, whom we share as stakeholders.
“What did you do wrong, Nestor? Why would the Ravens throw you out? You’ve been their biggest ambassador and promoter over 30 years!
“Why are you the ONLY one they’ve thrown out? Why have they treated you this way? WHAT DID YOU DO WRONG?”
I’m exhausted by these “ask the victim the cause” questions I get every day of my life from Baltimore Ravens fans who have followed and respect my work since 1996 and somehow think you and your franchise have more honor and integrity than my front row seat has afforded. When I walk the streets of my hometown, it’s become my violet letter – your assault on my credibility as a professional reporter and journalist – and it’s about time that you and your lieutenants start answering some questions about my professional execution when you walk the streets.
I had a semi-famous Baltimore C.E.O. tell me in the spring that his company wouldn’t sponsor WNST Baltimore Positive until I “fix things” with the Baltimore Ravens. I opened my phone and showed him all of the texts and timelines of your executives in recent years and he said to me, “I had no idea you were going through this. This is horrible.”
This week I will highlight and recap the words of you and your executives and the incredible “bad faith” that I’ve come to expect from the Orioles, not the Ravens.
I’m not going to allow Chad Steele or the Baltimore Ravens to wreck a business I’ve worked all of my life to create and sully the trust and respect of an audience who has supported me doing this work as a journalist since I was 15 years old at The News American and The Baltimore Sun.
My silence is over.
And even if your franchise is incapable of doing the right thing, I’ll be holding you, John Harbaugh, Eric DeCosta, Dick Cass, Sashi Brown and your tall, handsome henchman Chad Steele, accountable for the words and deeds as you prepare for another successful season on the field in 2023.
By the time I arrived in Palm Beach for the NFL Owner’s Meetings in March 2022, I had already known for seven months that Chad Steele had targeted me for elimination. I learned this in August 2021 (along with my wife) in the Catonsville living room of former Baltimore County Executive and my childhood guidance counselor and sometimes radio co-host Don Mohler, who confirmed this information in a conversation he’d forged with his mutual friend and your longtime Senior Vice President of Communications Kevin Byrne about why we’d no longer be sitting together as family in Section 513 for Baltimore Ravens games after having it be a part of our friendship and lives from the beginning of the franchise.
Why would the Baltimore Ravens try to throw Nestor out of the seats we share in Section 513 after three decades?
Of course, I told Mohler the real reason long before he called your former trusted executive and our mutual friend, Byrne searching for the truth: Chad Steele somehow thinks I said something about his sister on the radio that I simply never said – and he confronted me privately in a not-so-cool way almost 20 years ago when Sage Steele worked for Comcast Sports Net locally, and sought to intimidate me in your offices.
(And for the record, I don’t even know what he thinks I said but I know he hates me. This is not a state secret in your building in Owings Mills. This story is two decades old.)
But you probably know this, too, because Eric DeCosta, John Harbaugh, Dick Cass and Kevin Byrne all know – because I told them years ago of Steele’s mistreatment of me. And I asked all of them quietly and professionally for help over the years. Multiple times. I told Cass that I wouldn’t sit with Steele privately and be ridiculed and intimidated ever again behind closed doors. Cass not only refused to mediate in July 2021 – my candid, private chat with your team president actually encouraged Steele to retaliate, which became a pattern. I trusted Dick Cass and believed in his integrity, another mistake I made along the way.
John Harbaugh and Eric DeCosta feigned assistance several times only to retreat once Steele started coordinating and retaliating and you apparently decided that terrorizing and then banning legitimate media members was the right way to run the franchise. And once Sashi Brown took over and told me he wouldn’t be speaking to me on the same night that you made a crack about my new hairstyle at The Breakers, I knew the truth.
I wrote to you in Palm Beach in March 2022 when it became apparent that Chad Steele was trying to eliminate me from my job and career – the only work I’ve ever done to provide for my family since before your franchise existed: professionally report on Baltimore sports for local fans and citizens. I sought your private ear immediately after seeing you at the NFL Owners Meetings, when Chad Steele – always the bouncer at the club –intercepted me at the cocktail reception and boxed me out of your area. And after Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh both told me – with their wives in the conversation in Palm Beach earlier that night – that I needed to “get to Steve” to let you know what was happening in regard to my access and overall treatment by your franchise. All four of them attempted to calm me and assured me that you’d want legitimate information and that you respected me and how people are treated enough to listen. I trusted them. When people ask me what happened, I tell them that my biggest mistake was trusting you – and more specifically, believing that you wouldn’t tolerate me and my wife and my business being singled out and targeted by your employee for no reason other than his ego and power issues.
None of this has anything to do with my work or the way that I cover the Baltimore Ravens for local fans. My sponsors and audience realize this, which is why they ask me why you threw me out and blamed it on me.
I didn’t think this is the way the Baltimore Ravens do business with good, local people.
I told Don Mohler in his living room two years ago when I got wind of Steele’s plot for a way to extirpate me from my press credentials and access to do my job that you would never stand for it. I told him you were a bigger and better man, mainly because I’d heard your words for Angelos back in 2005 in my home.
I trusted you, Steve. I thought you were what Charley Eckman would call: “a right guy.”
I believed Chad Steele was doing all of this without your knowledge or approval – so, I wrote to you privately at the behest of your head coach and general manager (and their wives) whom I have known for decades on March 29, 2021, in the early morning hours before you were to sit with three of the four Baltimore media members who traveled to Florida to chat with you for the first time in several years at a media sitting.
I didn’t say hello longer last night and make small talk because it was clear I was uninvited. I am here, as always, to professionally learn about your franchise and the league and report to more than 100,000 in my local audience with quality information. I have been bullied or dismissed by your communications director for many years because of strange perceived slights or some personal vendetta that baffles the lifer Ravens fan and PSL holder and decent human in me.
When I went to Dick Cass to discuss this last summer, I was retaliated against the next day by your employee for being the only member of the media who has purchased tickets to every game since 1996 and has traveled to 98% of the road games. No one has seen – or paid for – more Ravens football than me and my family and my radio station.
Chad Steele told me that if I want to continue having access to ask questions, I would have to tell my wife to sit alone in the upper deck for the rest of my professional career after spending $100,000 in tickets over the years. With a furious and emotionally crushed wife, I sold the tickets and complied. Now somehow I am being further “punished” by not being allowed to ask you questions here in Palm Beach.
This treatment and arrogance from Chad Steele is not new. But I am assuming you did not know that my wife and I have been bullied out of our seats in the front row of Sect 513, Row 1 that we sat in together and purchased for two decades because your employee has some petty grievance that now somehow has him actually questioning my legitimacy as a media member and my radio station access after three decades. And today telling me —and you, and my audience and your fanbase — that I am unworthy of being part of a group of hardworking and committed lifer journalists who flew to Florida to ask you questions and learn about your new president and present operation as well as your vision for the franchise. There is now some imaginary Chad Steele gaslighting “worthiness box” I have to check to have access to ask you simple questions after flying to Florida to do it.
I don’t work at his pleasure but he works at yours.
This is wrong. It is unfair. And my wife and I have been publicly silent for months about how I have been treated by your trusted employee, who works with impunity, no matter how we are anyone in the media are treated.
You now know about it.
And I can only assume that if I am standing across the room today after flying down here for three days specifically to ask you questions and I am being stood off in the corner without access, then you are sanctioning my treatment and my banishment from the local media.
Honestly, after 27 years, I thought my track record in passionately covering your team with unrivaled expertise, immersing in the sport and league, writing two books on the franchise and dedicating my entire calendar life and building a radio station and media world committed to telling the story of Baltimore football would be enough to warrant my legitimacy.
On a personal level, man to man, I thought you and I were at a far better place than that as humans with mutual respect. You have certainly earned that respect from me. I thought that somewhere along the way, via my earnestness and integrity, I had earned your professional respect enough to not be disrespected, bullied and punished by your employee and franchise. My wife and I have been punished enough by having our Sunday memories and experience forever taken away. We relish our purple memories, especially after she nearly died twice in 2014 and 2015. We were lifer happy paying customers and globetrotting fans of the Ravens and we have been privately pissed on and silenced and having my family business access threatened by your executive after being the biggest fans and local advocates for the franchise and flying your flag.
And there is no more “media contingent” in Baltimore. There are four of us who cover the team on the road. We were all at the party last night. You will be in front of three of them today.
There are no words for the professional disappointment I feel today. It is a deep, profound sadness after dedicating my life to doing this work better than anyone has ever done it after Art moved the team here 27 years ago only to be headed back to Baltimore to be further scolded and privately bullied by your executive in Owings Mills if I want to continue to report on the Ravens.
It is not right. It is not the way good people treat each other.
I am hoping we can find some positive resolution privately because I have no desire to brawl with anyone in your building and have your communications chief telling your players that I am one of “bad” guys, the rat poison trope that they are fed from coaches and agents. From Eric and Ozzie to John and the scouts and the hundreds of former players I keep in my phone as real connections, I have many quality relationships with many good humans in your building.
I have always felt that you and I could talk and that you care deeply about how people are treated. I am reaching out in the hopes of finding a way to correct the situation so I can do my job and feed my family.
Since the day I shared that note with you, I’ve had my access and integrity as a professional disassembled by your disingenuous executives – all while Harbaugh and DeCosta were sending me post-elimination apology notes a year ago today. Telling me that Chad Steele was wrong and telling me privately that I am a real journalist.
You can let them know that I’ll be writing to them as well about the incongruence of their words and deeds and actions.
They know the truth. They’re your smartest men, your highest paid executives and leaders. They’re in on it, too!
I’ve known DeCosta for 25 years. He calls me a “friend.” I’ve known Harbaugh for 16 years as professional journalist. I’m not sure he is a friend but he’s told me many times that he loves me. They knew how wrong all of this is and was 52 weeks ago when your former Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco was playing against the Ravens for the only time in his career and I wasn’t allowed into Met Life Stadium in New Jersey via the orders of your communications executive to the Jets.
Only Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers allowed me into the press box in December 2022 to do my job last season. And, now, after two decades of friendship, somehow he has disappeared as well. I’ve even been ghosted by the Steelers head coach! Maybe he got a note or something?
A decade ago when the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl in New Orleans, I wrote a book about your personal integrity and that of your organization: “Faith, Family and Football” was the theme. It was a book about how you and your NFL franchise do things on the up and up – God’s way, with honesty and decency. I believed so much in your probity that I wrote 480 pages (yes, even with a few typos that are corrected here online) on the virtues and “high standards” of Steve Bisciotti and the Baltimore Ravens. Of course, that was before Ray Rice punched his wife in a glass elevator in a video monitored casino and your franchise was hellbent on covering it up and getting him onto the field to play football in 2014.
How utterly stupid do I feel about writing that book at this point? And signing my name to it in purple a decade later?
As it stands, I’ve not only been openly targeted and professionally thrown out of your organization (and every other NFL team) – despite having a tenured employee in Luke Jones whom you still allow the right to work for my company but who can’t take a day off from work because WNST wouldn’t have coverage because you would discriminate against me and my right to work on behalf of a company I’ve owned for three decades. We have to hope he doesn’t get sick or that the Orioles don’t play that day – or my media entity won’t be allowed to cover your football team.
You’ve stacked the deck against my local company while giving my former home press box seat to whomever Audacy radio decides wants it to watch the game that day.
Is this the treatment me and my company deserve or have warranted after three decades following your football team across the country and even Europe professionally doing my job and fulfilling my obligation as an FCC license holder and media representative to serve the public’s interest? Is it right that you’re discriminating against me and my right to work in a stadium that you just took $600 million of our money to inhabit and play your games in a state facility?
Is it because I have long hair? Is it because I’m Hispanic? Is it because I’m no longer a real journalist because some guy named Chad Steele decreed it after your franchise issued me a pass for 26 years that said “WORKING MEDIA” on it? Is it because your paranoid head coach hates my legitimate questions after your quarterback runs the ball 21 times in an NFL game and needs to play four days later?
Or is it just because your PR guy has a personal axe to grind with a local reporter and wants to personally wreck his media career and local business with the power of a $5 billion brand?
Or is it because the owner of franchise doesn’t really care about anything other than making money, the exit strategy and maybe winning another Super Bowl on the way out?
Chad Steele has also issued word over the past year to all of the other NFL teams communication departments and Park Avenue – alerting communications people I’ve known for two decades and organizations that have been professionally credentialing me for 26 years that I’m somehow no longer recognized as a legitimate media member by the Baltimore Ravens and to no longer allow me entrance for football games in their stadia or any of the league-related activities that I’ve been covering all of my adulthood and since the birth of the franchise you own in 1996. I’ve been doing this work since 1991. WNST is celebrating our 25th anniversary this month with our 25 Stories of Glory. Most are aligned with professionally covering and being the preeminent historians of Baltimore Ravens football in the local sports media space. I asked Art Modell the first question in Parking Lot D in November 1995, back when you were dreaming of owning the Maryland Terps. The next six months will recap all of that rich local sports history and our legitimacy for those who came to the WNST or Baltimore Positive party sometime after our 1998 birth on a little AM radio station.
The Baltimore Ravens have treated me and my family like trash in recent years. And my audience, sponsors, friends, listeners and readers all know it’s unwarranted and unrelated to the quality or content or commitment of our work.
Every time I approached Dick Cass, Kevin Byrne, Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh over years with honesty and transparency looking for assistance to better improve my working situation, I was retaliated against by Chad Steele.
Then, I wrote to you in March 2022.
You’re in on this. You will own this, too. After all, you’re the billionaire who controls everything – even though you’re bored with most elements of your $5 billion pro sports toy after two decades.
I wasn’t really thrown out by Chad Steele; I was only targeted by him. You are the one who enabled it, sanctioned it and endorsed it even after knowing it was wrong. I realized that at the lunch table in Owings Mills last spring at that sham “sit down” in the cafeteria you ordered when Dick Cass (who was emeritus at that point and completely checked out) folded his arms and repeatedly said: “Don’t go behind our backs to Steve; we speak for Steve.”
In other words, “Don’t go to Steve Bisciotti with the truth.” He’s too wealthy and important to deal with you or any other media member or fan or PSL holder. It was very clear that they had no idea that I have your phone number and have had it for two decades. You gave it to me when you were in my condo in 2005. And I’ve never been told by you to not text you or contact you over 18 years. As a matter of fact, every time I’ve ever written to you, you’ve written back – including twice when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 and 2015 when you wrote to me – and more recently in 2020 when you posted a “Black Lives Matter” video message during the plague.
Cass and Steele referenced portions of the private letter I wrote you at the lunch table that day in April 2022 in a staged intimidation act in the cafeteria in front of my peers and media competitors at the Liar’s Luncheon – almost like you just forwarded it to them that morning in Palm Beach. All knowing Steele was seeking to use his newfound power to remove me from the media contingent – no matter what I said or did. Byrne made that clear to Mohler nine months earlier. I made that clear to you when I wrote to you in March 2022.
Funny how that all worked out just like Byrne told Mohler it would two years ago?
Chad Steele started the April 2022 Owings Mills lunch you ordered from Palm Beach with an abrupt prayer and before he could start chewing his food said: “So, you think I’m a bully” and then opened a 75-minute assault on truth and a new list of “Nestor-only rules” that were my new personal minimum requirements to have a media pass after 26 years of covering the Ravens and 38 years of being a sports journalist. I recapped that in writing hours later for your head coach – the most powerful man in the building who doesn’t share your last name – who was privately texting me that he wanted to “help” me in your building.
John Harbaugh will get his letter of truths from me later in the week.
My next interaction with Steele was when he threw me out 12 weeks later via a hasty July 26th phone call on the day before training camp opened when we applied for the same season credentials I’ve had since 1996, stating that I didn’t attend enough OTAs – the same minicamp that your $252 million quarterback ghosted and pissed off your head coach, who wrote to me unprovoked on that Friday in May 2022 alerting me to how unhappy he was that Lamar Jackson wasn’t in Owings Mills practicing with his team but was instead sparring with broadcaster Chris Simms on Twitter while his teammates were on the field sweating in the heat. I missed part of your June 2022 mini-camp in Europe with my wife who was spending time with the man who saved her life on the bone marrow registry but I was there asking Lamar Jackson legitimate questions on the final day I was allowed in your facility. I told Chad Steele at the intimidation meeting in your cafeteria in April that I had spring travel plans.
Steele weaponized and minimized my awful 2021 degenerative back injury that took me more than a year to recover from after a medical procedure, a long-planned summer trip to Europe with my wife and implied that my laziness and disinterest in covering the Ravens no longer warranted my access. But Luke Jones can still represent my company “because he busts his ass every day.” This came a few weeks after I spent four days of my life chasing you around Palm Beach on my company’s dime trying to spend 45 minutes on a veranda with three other reporters because it’s the only access you’d allowed to Baltimore media in more than three years. That was always Kevin Byrne’s made-up rule and a clever way to keep you hidden: if you’re serious enough to fly to Florida, the owner will talk to you.
I flew to Florida. Like I’ve flown to Arizona for two decades for the West Coast meetings that you always skip to make sure you’re not available to the media for another year over the past decade. I am a worker. As a kid from Dundalk who worked every minute of my life to have everything I have with dignity and pride, to have your cushy executive whom I know hates me then insult my work ethic as he was extricating me from my license to do my job was laughable – pure and utter self-serving ignorance.
Like the company you keep with the 31 other NFL billionaires, you’re a lot more slippery than you used to be when you cared about our city and the team for more than a trophy on the wall and a guaranteed high-profit tax shelter. I used to love your annual press conferences because you spoke truth. You were present. You were accountable. You were real.
I’m accountable every day. And today, I’m speaking truth. You used to be accountable and present. I have the evidence.
Steve, you do a lot of lecturing and speaking about “humility” when you assess the character of folks. Over 20 years, it’s a recurring theme and a bar of credibility for you. I chronicled this at length in “Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family and Football” because you spoke at length about this aspect of your hiring ideology in the case of John Harbaugh. You actually brought it up in regard to the “signability” of Odell Beckham Jr. in the only time you surfaced this summer on Sirius XM Radio.
When Steele “fired me” from being a credentialed Ravens reporter after 26 years on the phone, he arrogantly told me to cancel all of my road trip flights and re-book them for Luke Jones. He told me that only Luke Jones could cover the Ravens for WNST-AM 1570 and Baltimore Positive.
Forget humble, I actually wondered if this is lawful.
I kept trying to imagine a universe where Steele would be on the phone with Dan Joerres at WBAL telling him that Gerry Sandusky is banned but only Pete Gilbert could cover the team. Or telling 105.7 that Cordell Woodland wouldn’t be welcome but only Ken Weinman would be allowed into the building. Or telling The Baltimore Sun that Mike Preston is banned because you prefer the Caucasian columnist. Or telling Fox 45 that they could only send a male reporter.
Or telling Jeff Zrebiec that he can’t cover the team because he took family time off for a season to be with his child and wife and be a husband. (You let him back in, as far as I can tell to do his job for that little local company The New York Times.)
After 27 years of following your franchise all over the world. After attending more home and road games than anyone in the history of Baltimore media (and it’s not even close). After spending six months in severe pain with a degenerative disc in my back that made moving a challenge every day of my life from September 2021 through the middle of this year. After surviving a plague where I sat in empty stadia from Houston to Philadelphia to Washington. After dedicating my life to doing this work for Baltimore sports fans on behalf of a company I built from nothing with an AM radio stick at 1570 on the band that no one ever wanted before me and no one will ever want again.
Chad Steele threw me out – without any legitimate cause – in a sloppy phone call on July 26, 2022, after 27 years of covering every significant press conference in the history of the franchise. I carried the torch for John Steadman and Vince Bagli. Before my exit by force, I had attended more Baltimore Ravens games than anyone other than Baker Koppelman. You know how I know? Because I was at all of the games! I’ll show you the 26 years worth of paid-for ticket stubs and well-earned-with-my-sweat press credentials with my name and that of my company WNST on them. And the hotels and planes and buses and expenses of sending employees all over the country as well for many years.
Me and my company have spent, literally, millions of dollars covering the Baltimore Ravens and have been responsible for purchasing tens of thousands of tickets – home and away – from Koppelman (and Roy Sommerhof before him) and his staff since 1996. Some would say that I have “flown your flag.”
When I’ve told my sponsors and business friends about how Chad Steele has treated me, several of them replied with the same exact Baltimore phrase: “That’s pretty shitty of Steve Bisciotti!”
Steve, I’ve known you for 25 years. You’ve been in my home. You know the work I do is legitimate. You know I’m a real journalist. You know my company is fully committed to covering the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL professionally – and always has been.
But writing to me in our final text last summer when your franchise sought to de-legitimize me professionally and after I wrote to you and asked to speak with you personally and this was your lame reply:
“We are going to have to agree to disagree.”
On what? On whether I’m a legitimate journalist? Really. That’s where you are intellectually in front of your $5 billion brand after taking $600 million of public money from the citizens of our state?
You and Chad Steele get to decide who is a professional journalist – and who to professionally castrate with access? And whose career to assassinate by calling everyone in your industry and dirtying up my good name and the reputation of the work I’ve spent a lifetime earning through honest effort.
This is your adult answer after I bought your tickets for 27 years and you know I’ve been clearly targeted by your employee – who else in the Baltimore has been thrown out and had his seat in the press box given to a corporate, out-of-town FM competitor – and eliminated by your franchise?
Sounds more like something Pee Wee Herman would say as a punchline on a playground. Is that the stock bullshit answer a billionaire randomly gives whenever he knows he’s completely wrong but has enough money to do whatever he wants on behalf of an employee who has power urge problems that make him feel good about being vindictive and petty? A “head of communications” who stood in front of the rest of the media back in the spring and forbid questions for the head coach and general manager about the team’s quarterback who was under contract at what was staged as a legitimate press conference?
That’s your guy?
You get to pick the “local” Baltimore journalists from The New York Times and ESPN and who-hell-knows-who-owns-it The Baltimore Sun to chat with poolside in Palm Beach 18 months ago and then wreck the career of the one other guy locally – who actually owns a legitimate local, Baltimore-based soil media entity without a pay wall – who seeks to ask you a few questions once a year and cover your football team professionally?
Where is your humility, Steve?
You’re treating me – and everyone in my audience and everyone in my personal world – like a chump. And I really thought you were better than this and wrote that to you in the aftermath. And your fans come up to me every day and ask me if this is the way that the Baltimore Ravens conduct their business in 2023 – disposing of people they don’t like in the media by using a petty vendetta and lies.
And the fact that the Baltimore Ravens would ever want to hate me – all I’ve ever done is love the franchise and support it and professionally hold it accountable to its own stated standards. The kind of standard that would make the city and the fans proud to build a purple cave in their basement and mortgage their future for the Super Bowl trip and parade.
In my case, and for my audience of more than 100,000 people on social media, what should I tell them? I know how I’ve been treated. And I know who has said what and when to me behind closed doors long before your brand attempted to dispatch me and pretend my work or efforts are less than professional.
So today, I’m once again “breaking the rules” by actually having the audacity to ask the billionaire who’s publicly tried to wreck my career, business and local reputation what everyone asks me on the streets of Baltimore every day of my life:
“What did do you do wrong, Nestor? Why would the Ravens throw you out? You’ve been their biggest ambassador and promoter over 30 years!
“Why are you the only one they’ve thrown out? Why have they treated you this way? WHAT DID YOU DO WRONG?”
What should I tell them, Steve?
That you’re too big to fail and too arrogant to do the right thing? And too egotistical to acknowledge truth? And too wealthy to care about anything that isn’t a Sunday victory for your football team or any of the other droppings of the NFL partnership or the heinous acts of your executives?
I’m getting tired of being asked what I did wrong. I was never really given a formal reason for having my credential rescinded for life – and certainly nothing in writing from Chad Steele, who has been exceptional at hiding behind his enlarged ego and newfound power with Sashi Brown – except when they’re down in Annapolis picking up $600 million of your gifted public money, answering no questions and then posing for photo ops. Your fans all see him glaring from behind and over the shoulder of one of your team members.
So, I’ll be writing to you and your executives before the season begins offering you a chance for some rare public accountability for your inglorious actions and deeds.
If you’re proud of throwing me out and have a real reason, it’s time to step up and be accountable. Give me a legitimate reason – or fabricate one like Steele did with the charge that I had a beer in a tailgate lot with my wife before a game five years ago or that I sat with my wife and the Mohler family at the Rams game on our last time together in the seats we paid for in Section 513 seats for a quarter (against his orders) – so I can explain it to your customers. Or perhaps Chad Steele can fabricate some new lies about my lack of commitment to covering your franchise when I’m the only local entity that has consistently covered your football team every day of its existence – and was a part of willing it into existence from 1991 to 1995 and helped Art and David sell a few thousand PSLs to your customers. The same people in Section 513, who much like Don Mohler and Don Scott, want to know why my wife and I were separated from our seats and aren’t at the games anymore.
For me and my human experience, when your fans and my listeners, readers, citizens and friends continually ask me what I’ve “done wrong” it’s been kind of like asking the victim at the scene of a crime what they did to deserve the punishment. Or what kind of weapon was chosen? And the rationale of something that is so openly nefarious and dishonest in its very intent: where the one laying on the ground has to defend why they’re there.
I’m done with that. It hasn’t been good for my mental health.
We all know that you have been purposely hiding from the media since the Ray Rice fiasco. (Man, that one that no one remembers in the press room where he’s reading from his phone and pronouncing his innocence is a doozy, in retrospect. The worst press conference in the history of your franchise – maybe in the history of sports press conferences. You’ll still never get me to believe that Kevin Byrne sanctioned that one!)
You dislike the media and people like me and the work that we do. It shows the minute any of us walk in the building. So does your head coach but he’s forced to embrace it and answer questions. And so does your communications and brand professional – anything that can’t be controlled must be threatened or eliminated. I told Kevin Byrne for years how inhospitable your building had become for me long before COVID. Players being disrespectful during media time. The coach lying and being openly harsh toward reporters when he doesn’t like fair questions. Players routinely hiding after losses. People blowing off commitments they’ve made in the community on a handshake and honor. Players showing up to my events drunk or in some cases even worse as I found out at Buffalo Wild Wings one night in Owings Mills in 2014 when my wife was in the hospital fighting for her life and I had a wannabe madame/agent trying to shake me down for money in the restaurant at a show where I invited your player as a guest.
Then there was the time the guy you’re putting into your Ring Of Honor put his pinky finger into his mouth and stuck his wet finger and saliva into my ear canal while I was listening to a player at the next locker during media day. He thought it was funny, like the bleach incident.
There’s a “faces of the media” wall in the gym where your players work out. The picture of me was from 2004, when I was 25 pounds heavier and had bleach in my hair. It hung there for 17 years next to all of my media colleagues until I was eliminated. (Not that I have been in that gym, mind you. The players would see the photo in the locker room and be shocked when I don’t look anything like the picture. It was the first talking point with most of the players you drafted or signed for a decade: them laughing at a stupid, unflattering picture of me on the wall the first time I meet them. I was a punchline before I had met most of the players of the post-SB47 era.)
I didn’t appreciate that. I didn’t deserve that.
I stopped doing the legendary purple live shows years ago for all of the above reasons: it was a battle with your coach, Steele, the players inconsistencies, the crazy dishonest agents, the absurd money, etc. And of course your eternal desire to create more exclusivity and money shows up every day in Michelle Andres’ glorious work in painting the picture of how impeccable and significant the lavender shine is on your Castle at the team’s purple Pravda website complete with nonstop social media cheerleading.
I’ll be featuring my glorious days at The Barn this week as part of our WNST 25 Stories of Glory but I wasn’t expecting the good old days to ever come back again. That purple bird has long ago flown away to the team website and The Lounge where every aspect can be controlled and profited from so Lamar Jackson can be paid $52 million this year after demanding a trade that he never really wanted you to make. He wanted to be here the whole time. I know because he told his co-workers that at Ravens.com. (Wink, wink.)
Steve, I don’t expect special treatment – just some professional dignity and integrity and decency after dedicating my life to this work in the 1990s and investing my world into covering the Baltimore Ravens better than anyone has ever covered them. Just the ability to do my job, the way I’ve always done it. The way John Steadman and Jack Gibbons taught me 40 years ago that has served me well and continues to keep and earn the trust of my fellow citizens.
Of course, my wife always remembers that late night in Dana Point, California at the 2009 Owners Meeting when you busted into a circle when I was in visiting with the entire Harbaugh family – and tersely told me to stay away from them, to “leave them alone” after Jim Harbaugh (whom I’d known for a dozen years and was coaching Stanford) and John had invited us to join them for a drink. The classiest man in the family, Jack Harbaugh, apologized profusely and told us that we were always welcome with the Harbaugh family.
My wife has seen a lot of people approach me in many ways. She’s never seen anything like that angry show you put on in her witness at the St. Regis. She remembers it vividly, as do I. And it feels especially telling now that you’ve been a part of targeting my media access and throwing me out without cause.
That, of course, was a massive departure from our time together three years earlier in March 2006 in Phoenix, Arizona at The Biltmore when you insisted that I go for a long walk and a cigar on the veranda with Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay as a partner in trying to negotiate how the records of the Baltimore Colts (and Johnny Unitas) could be somehow shared at the Pro Football Hall of Fame because you were tired of the complaints of our fans having to see Colts numbers under an Indianapolis exhibit in Canton, Ohio.
As a lifelong Baltimore sports fan, you know that meant a lot to me because I told you. I told you that I was really proud of you for broaching the subject with Jim, who is not a bad guy at all. That was back when you cared. And you seemed to care about your own legacy, reputation and did a lot of chatting about God and decency as you strummed the guitar on my couch in my condo over some Miller Lites after that Journey concert at Ramshead back in September 2005 when you insisted I join you for a ride through Baltimore and a bathroom break at my place. I showed you the purple glow of the lights of the stadium out of my office window from the 23rd floor. You told me that you were going to give all of your money away before you die and make the world a better place. I admired that.
You lived in Anne Arundel County then. You thought of yourself as a “local” owner – the kind of guy who would be at a Journey concert at the Baltimore Arena. Now, you jet in when you feel like it and get the police escort – and that is a lot less often than it used to be. The investment is throwing off hundreds of millions of dollars, more than you even could’ve dreamed it up when the deal was brought to you half a lifetime ago. And, to be honest, it feels like you don’t care about much of anything, let alone people in the media you have no use for anymore because we can’t really help you make a buck in your mind. Like we’re only here to wreck you, which is quite far removed from the truth, certainly in my case.
I’m here to hold you accountable. You have enough fans and sycophants. You need more journalists around you to challenge the delicate balance of your arrogance and wisdom. You’re making a lot of money. You have a lot of power. You just took $600 million of free money. You can afford to do better. You really can.
And because you’re never really around for any of the fans to share the same rarefied air as you, I’ll be here this week for what your former head coach Brian Billick always called “unfiltered” information. I live here. I’m from here. I talk to people every day, your fans. They’re honest with me, like I’ve always been honest with you.
I’m going to provide you and your executives with a full, professional recap of my private treatment so the 100,000 people who follow my work – your fans and customers and fellow citizens of mine (because I live and work here) – can know the truth and stop asking me what I did to deserve to have me (and my wife) be publicly treated like shit from the front row of Section 513 of the seats I have purchased and have my professional integrity threatened and my business legitimacy shredded on a daily basis by a billionaire and the behavior of his PR bouncer.
As far as I can tell, no one’s asked you a question on your yacht or down in Jupiter on the golf course and Chad Steele has everyone in your building and the rest of the local media hiding under desks in fear of his retaliation techniques, which seemed pretty effective when I was singled out and eliminated in full view of the rest of my peers who cover the Ravens and the league.
If you can get rid of me, you can get rid of anybody. That should be the scary part for anyone who is a fan of the NFL or anyone who thinks their son or daughter or niece should be a sports journalist. That should be the scary part of whomever takes the next columnist job at The Baltimore Banner or gets a job over at WBAL – or anywhere they value a press credential.
Jeff Zrebiec, Jamison Hensley and Jonas Shaffer all thought it was “shitty,” too, when I was cut out at Palm Beach – they told me at the bar – but none of them reported a word or said a word about how WNST and me were treated like we needed a special water fountain where the help stays out in the back at The Breakers in Palm Beach at the NFL Owner’s Meetings in 2022.
(Because they have families to feed.)
But if they’re not reporting “truth” are they really media members? Hmmm…
If you’ve given Chad Steele enough power to bake up a story to eliminate a legitimate lifelong local media member who has owned a sports radio station for 25 years “with pre-meditated cause” in some bullshit he’s feeding you, then you probably should be checking into your own building more often on the 1-31 legend of Sashi Brown, whose best gift as far as I can tell over the first 20 months has been avoiding media, avoiding anyone locally with a legitimate heart and fan stake in the franchise and taking pictures with VIPs and local politicians as they stroll through the impressive Castle in Owings Mills.
All while my social media feed begs me to buy the same tickets you threw me out of in a stadium that is never, ever full anymore.
I was in Owings Mills doing my job for my only press conference of The Sashi Brown Era, the day he took over the reigns in 2022. I spent my day driving out to The Castle for that sham. Chad Steele hand-picked who got to ask the questions in advance. I felt like Arnold Horshack, just like the Orioles days when I would show up for press conferences with my hand raised and was never called on by the PR staff.
The new Purple Pravda!
Your old team president, Dick Cass, used to sit with me and speak on behalf of the franchise anytime I asked and because I came armed with facts and intelligent questions on behalf of your fan base and customers. (Lisa Dixon used to set it up. Tell her I said hi. Always liked her!)
Is that too high of a bar for Sashi Brown? Or is he incapable of sitting for an interview without having Chad Steele hand the “reporter” the questions? Before his predecessor Dick Cass had the audacity to attempt to get me to voluntarily relinquish my credentials (eight weeks before I was thrown out anyway) and continue paying to sit in my seats with my wife in Section 513, he sat with me to discuss the franchise like a real leader is supposed to do in fronting a $5 billion local entity that just received $600 million of civic food stamps for a billionaire like you.
CASS VIDEO HERE
This is why I had a lot of respect and full trust for Dick Cass. He didn’t hand me the questions and he was always ready with legitimate answers. I spent hours in his office privately over the years discussing the business side of the NFL. I saw him on the back porch discussing your franchise many, many times with PSL holders, executives, regular fans and plenty of people who remember their day in Owings Mills as the best day of their year.
Over the last 12 months, I’ve lost three decades of friendships with many of your employees because I’ve been thrown out. I recognize this from my Orioles purge back in 2006, when everyone in The Warehouse had to hide from me or feel the wrath of the Angelos family. People who attended my wedding in 2003 were out of my life in 2007 because they feared for their jobs and livelihood. Your employees are now frightened to have any association with me because I’m a purple leper now that Chad Steele has de-legitimized me and my work. I have been unfriended, unfollowed and ignored by folks who have been in my home and life since 1996 for speaking the only thing I know and have ever known: truth.
I’ve only had one correspondence with anyone in your building since this decree by your brand manager and that was with your head coach, and I’ll be writing to him to tomorrow to demand the same accountability and integrity that you all seem to love to brag about when it’s convenient and you’re winning football games.
Or when you expect journalists like me to give you the fair and decent treatment and the kind of reporting that I provided over a lifetime of work and accountability to my words and deeds.
The threat to other media members is implicit. No one has asked Chad Steele publicly about his little game of “How can we get rid of Nestor Aparicio as a local reporter and the somehow pin his ouster on him?”
Not a shred of accountability.
No one has noticed. Except everyone in my life. Everywhere I go. And every day on my social media timeline.
If you’ve sought to de-legitimize me, I’m not sure that’s really worked but you’ve certainly made people ask me about your character, your integrity and your intentions.
I don’t know your personal “why” but I know you endorsed this totally unnecessary chicanery. But Ravens fans asking me your “why” only exists because they have no access to you or Chad Steele. I don’t know the “why” but I do know the “how.”
Recently, a former well-paid player from your past roster said to me: “It doesn’t make any sense. I didn’t think Steve would do anything like that. I don’t see what’s in it for the Ravens to throw you out after all of these years?”
It’s a fair question. And one that I would’ve posed to you last summer had you not denied my legitimacy in one text. But no one ever asks you any questions because you’re too rich, too powerful and too unavailable to ever seek any real ethos.
“We’re going to have to agree to disagree” on whether I’m a legitimate journalist.
When Chad Steele becomes the arbiter of who is and isn’t a media member is the day that your franchise is in ideological free fall.
The way me and my family and my business have been treated is deplorable. But I guess if you’re proud of your words and deeds, I will certainly be proud of mine.
I wrote you a letter last March in Palm Beach that came from my heart.
I’m not going anywhere as long as I’m breathing. I’ll be here watching your team, writing about your team, talking about your team and being honest with my audience. I never had a problem with looking any of your players or coaches in the eye after providing legitimate criticism or analysis after a football game.
The accountability I demand is the accountability I give and provide. I’m famous for walking my talk.
Peter Angelos told me in March 1997 at The Barn on my radio show that he was a “very available individual” and that I could call him anytime. He told me he had plenty of time for everyone! I never spoke to him again and was never allowed in a room he inhabited. He ran away from me at the Hyatt downtown the one time he saw me publicly.
Meanwhile, Art Modell told me the day I met him: “Never be afraid to criticize me, kid. If all you ever do is praise me, they’ll never believe a word you say.”
My credibility is in tact because I don’t need to lie. The facts and the words and deeds of you and your executives will tell the true story about Chad Steele and Nestor Aparicio.
Meanwhile, this guy was present and accountable until the end. He never lied to me. We never had to “agree to disagree” on the legitimacy of my journalism or credibility. Art Modell was a “right” guy.
When you come into your Castle in Owings Mills and look up and see Art Modell smiling down over the fireplace from high above, think of me, Steve!
I love football. I loved the concept of your football team and my city having it. Everyone knows I dedicated my life and all of my resources to it.
You’ve chosen to be awful to me – and my wife – for sport. That’s unconscionable and unfortunate. And I really didn’t see it coming, as all of my correspondences with your executives will show. I believed in you implicitly right up until I got that “agree to disagree” text.
With all of that money and power, I guess it must be hard to afford kindness. All of this has been so unnecessary and awful for me and my family.
Hispanic Journalists Matter, too, Steve! So do good citizens and fans.
My wife and I are good citizens and were exceptional Baltimore Ravens fans and supporters.
We were thrown out. One at a time by Chad Steele.
But I’ll be watching and doing my job from the outside – by force. I love football. But I saw the game much better from the seats I paid for in Section 513 for 26 seasons.
Good luck. The city is better when the sports teams are winning. And don’t worry, John Angelos is always a day away from doing something so stupid that no one will be paying attention to your $600 million billionaire handout.
P.S. When you get a chance, make sure you ask Chad Steele what he thinks I said about his sister. I’d really like to know because it’s always baffled me because I never had an issue or a harsh word with or about Sage Steele during her time here or during her ESPN journey. Tell him I’m on the record with that. The last time I saw her 10 years ago at a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer, I actually remember telling her that I was happy for her success. It’s all so very strange to me.