Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Baltimore Ravens A look back

I have lived in Baltimore my whole life. When I was younger I never was really into football all that much. Like most young kids Baseball was my sport. That was interesting though because Baltimore is notoriously a football town. I think I went to one Baltimore Colts football game in my whole life before that terrible day in 1983 when like thieves in the night the Colts were moved to Indianapolis, which coincidentally is where this year's super bowl was held. For 13 long years from age 10-23 I was without Baltimore Football. But as mentioned above was satisfied with Baseball. I watched the Super Bowl like everyone and occassionally a football game, but I do not remember to much about that. I even couldn't get into it during college when that was all that was going on Sunday and Monday.

During those 13 long years, I would visit my grandparents who lived outside of DC. They were huge fans of the Redskins and when we visited they usually had the game on and I watched it since to be honest there was not a lot to do at my grandparents house. So I became a fan of the Skins, which according to actor Josh Charles is a sacrilige. (He responded to one of my tweets last year calling me out.) I can understand Baltimore fans hatred of the Redskins, but you need to see my side. After the Colts left, who was I supposed to cheer for? The Steelers? (Though a lot of Marylanders did) The Cowboys? (who were America's team at the time. No thank you!) My grandparents liked the Redskins and they were pretty good during that time, so I became a Redskins fan. Not an ardent fan but one who followed them, again not too closely but would always be happy when they won, or bad when they lost. Then 1996 hit and Baltimore was getting a new team.

Now I realize we did to Cleveland what Indianapolis did to us, but it was never as bad for Cleveland as it was for Baltimore, because that tool Paul Tagliabue came to their rescue when he ignored Baltimore...TWICE. The first time was during expansion in the early 90s. Two new teams were going to be introduced to the NFL. We had the best package of any of them. We had funding set for a new stadium, a rabid fanbase to guarantee sellouts, and we were screwed 10 years earlier. Logic dictated that one of the teams was going to Carolina (which it did) because there was no team between Washington and Atlanta, that's fine. They were the first team to be announced, then they said they were going to hold off for a while to reveal the 2nd one. WHY? Baltimore was the best city. We learned later he picked Jacksonville, having that time between announcements to help the Jacksonville investors get a better bid together. Plus he wanted another locale to play the Super Bowl. End of story we got screwed. That was when he used the infamous museum quote, saying we should use the stadium money to build a new museum since we were NEVER going to get a team while he was around. Meanwhile Art Modell in Cleveland was getting screwed himself. Cleveland had built a new stadium for the Indians, and built the Rock n Roll hall of fame. But when Art asked for some money to upgrade his stadium, they laughed at him. So he decided to go someplace where he could get a new stadium and have a government behind him. Baltimore was the place. He moved the team and the outrage it caused not only in Cleveland (which is understandable) but in the NFL. Sorry Tagliabue looks like we got a team and we have treated her well, whereas there is rumblings Jacksonville maybe moving to LA. HMM what city looks better now PAUL!  Sorry I am still bitter, but here is where it gets really frustrating. Tagliabue promises them a new team in 3 years. WTF???? What happened to getting a team in Baltimore after they moved? We had an NFL history as rich as Cleveland. Hell the Colts had gone to two Super Bowls. Cleveland none. Now Art Modell is being blacklisted from the Hall, but I think Bob Irsay made it in. Art belongs more then anybody because he was devoted to Cleveland and he was treated like garbage in the 90s. So I don't blame him for the move. I blame Irsay because if he wasn't a jerk, John Elway would have been a Colt and he very well could have had the career he had in Denver in Baltimore and this whole post would be moot. Oh well. Brighter days now. Baltimore has Football!

They spent their first two or three years in Memorial Stadium while the new stadium was being built, Coached by Ted Marchibroda with Quarterback Vinny Testeverde and two first round draft picks by the names of Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis. They won their first game ever, but stumbled to a 4-12 season including a loss to the Indianapolis Colts. I went to a Miami game with my dad, my first Ravens game ever which they lost. I did not make it back for a few years until they moved into their new digs and my dad and I have gone to 1 game a year which we still do to this day.

Then in 1998 I started working for WLIF 101.9 FM and 1300 AM who were at the time the flagship stations for the Ravens games. So as part of my job I had to work every home game of the Ravens at our courtesy tent, and sometimes I was given free tickets to the game.  I also got to work signings by the Ravens. I worked Jamal Lewis' first ever appearance at Towson Town Center. I got to meet and work with a lot of former Colts as well. I shook Johnny Unitas' hand, I got to wear Tom Matte's Super Bowl ring. And when the Ravens won the Super Bowl, I got to touch the Lombardi Trophy.

I've been to my fair share of great games. The first ever playoff game the Ravens were in also happened to be the first ever home playoff game they ever had on December 31, 2000. They played the Broncos and my dad was able to get tickets. However they were not together so we agreed to meet at halftime. It was also bitterly cold and I had a cold as well. They won and then had to go on the road to continue their march to the Super Bowl, which they ultimately won. I went to the exciting game where the Ravens first beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. They had a horrible record against them since 96, but they soon won a great game at home. My wife and I went to a night game where we saw a punt return for 107 yds. A bitter cold night game where the Ravens played the Redskins and my wife and sister who are skins fans went to the game with my dad and I. Ravens won and the ladies were good sports. I have seen utter drubbings, The Ravens destroying the Lions 41-7 on a rainy sunday in December.

I am a huge Ravens fan and have been very lucky that our team has been fairly good for their whole career here, especially the last 4 years with 4 straight playoff apperances. They just have not been able to take that next step. This past season was a heartbreaker for the Ravens faithful, where we got all the way to the Championship game and outplayed the Patriots only to lose on a dropped touchdown and a wide left field goal try. I have hope that this year we will be able to push through and get another super bowl appearance, I know my team can do it. I love the Ravens, and I love football. Just wait til next year...

1 comment:

  1. You are such a romantic at heart. And thank you for not mentioning how I smashed our camera by dropping it two rows down on the cement. Though I just outed myself there so go me!