Rule # 50 - Just enjoy!
What a difference a year makes!
Last year, I watched the Super Bowl - watched what got to be a great game, some great commercials, had fun, ate great food, and cut down the commentators and their bro-mances with certain players.
This year, I watched the Super Bowl - watched what got to be a great game, some great commercials, had fun, ate great food, and cut down the commentators and their bro-mances with certain players.
Sounds like same stuff, different year? Not hardly, Hon! My AFC team, the Baltimore Ravens, made it to the top of the mountain as Super Bowl Champs. I had a reason to watch the game this year.
Now, I must confess to being a rabid sports fan. Never was much for playing the games, myself, except for a little softball as a pre-teen. My senior year of high school was spent with the marching band, as a majorette. But family gatherings, up South Jersey way, always ended up with a “discussion” of the Phillies or the Eagles and how they were faring that year. Once the Broad Street Bullies got their game on, family time also revolved around the Flyers. We became an army of armchair coaches, like every other Philly fan. We always knew more than anyone overpaid to work for any Philadelphia team. We alone were allowed to call our guys “Bums” on a regular basis. We perfected the Boo Bird chant. We taught the Philadelphia Daily News how to hold the sports teams accountable.
But then Hub and I got sent overseas. We spent three years as guests of Japan. In our absence, we lost track of the Philadelphia teams from a personal perspective. Oh, yes, our families wrote about the Flyers and 76’ers. We heard about the Freedom. But it just wasn’t the same as living it.
When we got back to the States – or as they told us, rotated to CONUS – we ended up living in the space between Baltimore and Washington. It wasn’t hard to get back into the swing of fandom. There was the Redskins, with Joe Theissman. There were the Orioles and Earl Weaver (God rest his soul) and Jim Palmer. The Colts were still Baltimore’s team, though the owner was a butthead, even then. We could root, root, root for the home teams, because there were so many of them.
But then, on a dark and snowy night, the Colts skulked out of Baltimore, along with all the history and tradition that belonged to the city. Our loyalties became a tale of two cities – Baltimore in the summer, Washington in the fall, and winter with the Capitals and Bullets – now the Wizards (Cheering for the Wizards is hard. I mean, really…. Go Wiz?)
Bring on Art Modell moving the Cleveland Browns from that city to Baltimore. We fans were very conflicted with this. We Baltimore football fans wanted a team so badly… but we didn’t really want to take someone else’s team. We knew what it felt like to have a team and its management middle finger the fans as they cross the city limits. But, it worked out for both cities in that Baltimore got a team, and a new beginning; and Cleveland got to keep the name and history. Within two years, the Dog Pound of the Cleveland Browns was woofing up a storm. It was still hard to say “That-other-city Colts”, though. For so long, they were the Indianapolis Irsays. The name Colts did not belong with Indianapolis – even after their great success with Peyton Manning at the helm. As a die-hard, I’m not sure it does now, either. But the past several years with the Baltimore Ravens has definitely erased the pain of the move.
Now this crazy city has its second Super Bowl championship! This is after a wild and crazy run by Robert Griffin, III, and the Washington Redskins. There was hope for an I-95 Super Bowl. This was after playoff baseball by both the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles – something not seen in this area in decades. We didn’t have time to miss the Capitals and hockey… we still are waiting for them to show back up to "play". The Capitals record leaves a lot to be desired so far in this shortened season. (So does the Flyers record)
And what a season 2012-2013 was! The birds of a Purple Feather were 10 and 6 by the end of the regular season. Everyone in the national media was defining the word “choke” with “John Harbaugh and the Ravens in the post season.” Each game had the media prognosticators going for the other team, and not Baltimore. There were a few rebels in the crowd – and my hat and thanks go to Steelers Coach Cowher for sticking with us all the way. This bunch of Ravens seemed to thrive on being the underdog. And the game itself was billed as the "Har-bowl". Brothers were meeting as competing head coaches for the first time in a Super Bowl. They met before on the football battlefield on Thanksgiving 2011. This game had more back stories than your average blockbuster movie.
And what did these disrespected underdogs turn up and do on Sunday, February 3? They came out and dominated the first half with fantastic play – and they quieted Phil Simms a bit, who questioned South Jersey native Joe Flacco’s ability. They chased Boomer Esiason from the half-time dais. They ran back a second half kick-off 108 yards for a touchdown. Thank you, Jacoby Jones!
Then came the blackout! And afterward, things got really interesting. Let’s just say that Joe Flacco’s dad is not the only one with conspiracy theory ideas on the blackout’s cause.
Oh, the nerves during that last quarter!! The 49ers came back and made it so close – too close for comfort. That last two minutes – well, let’s just say that I now have nothing to manicure. The last 11 seconds – you had Sam Koch do what? The last 4 seconds – oh, my heaven, they did it again! Now it was time to watch the Ravens celebrate. It was time to watch two brothers meet on the field of battle in the aftermath.
I am totally convinced that John and Jim Harbaugh are THE classiest coaches in any professional sport today. ‘Nuff said!
Celebrate, we all did. The bars in downtown Baltimore emptied onto the streets. They rocked the place, but not to the point where there were criminal offenses. We had a parade through the downtown area of the city. It ended at M&T Bank Stadium – a.k.a. the Purple Palace. Everyone was having a great time… and no one was getting ridiculously crazy!
Baltimore may have been defined by cable shows like “Homicide – Life on the Streets” and “The Wire”. True, there is a part of the city that resembles those shows. But our sports teams are raising the behavior bar. We now expect our fans to party hearty but not insanely. And our fans are coming through.
Now we have a few days to catch our collective breath before our birds of an Orange Feather send pitchers and catchers to Sarasota for spring training. And in a little more than a month, Buck’s Boys will be back in town.
Ahhhhhhhh! Cue Queen… We are the Champions!
Is this a great place or what?!
Photo credits - Thank you to CBS Sports and Baltimore Ravens! All photos are public domain.