As a child growing up in Baltimore, our house admittedly was not sports crazy. But I had enough awareness, living just blocks from Memorial Stadium, that the Colts were us, and that we were the Colts. This is all long before multi-million-dollar contracts, endorsement deals, and the ego associated with modern professional sports. This is when the team of players were blue-collar, working guys who you could bump into anywhere in town. Clearly those days are over, and the recent ubiquitous buildup of the Colts returning to Baltimore for a playoff game Saturday, reopened emotional wounds and prompted flashback visions of Mayflower trucks quietly stealing a sizable chunk of Baltimore’s soul under a veil of snowy darkness in 1984.
I should note here that I am not a football fan. I barely follow professional sports at all. I am however, a devout fan of Baltimore.
Baltimore is now “Ravenstown,” and last Friday was proclaimed “Purple Friday.” After my two young sons were gently hazed at their school for not being dressed head to toe in purple camouflage (which by the way, they never will be), I found myself searching for three Raven’s hats the night before Saturday’s game. Believe it or not, I was successful.
Saturday afternoon, I sat in my living room with my new Raven’s hat, a few beers, snacks, and watched the entire game, participating in what was amounting to be a collective therapy session. It was touted as “Ravenge,” and failure wasn’t even considered.
Four quarters later, and not a single touchdown. Instead, what transpired were fumbles, mistakes, interceptions and a bunch of field goals. Ultimately though, the opportunity that was missed was bigger than either ball club and bigger than either city… an opportunity for a generation of Baltimorians to put the past behind, and to separate ourselves from the memory of losing something everyone here loved. A memory surfaced by the presence of blue horseshoes in Baltimore, and the pain of watching them win, and then leave… again.
My boys and I have our hats now. Go Baltimore. Go Ravens.