Few defeats in Ravens history have been as devastating as last year's playoff loss. The defense was championship caliber! McNair was on fire! The O-line was nigh impregnable! And then the Colts broke our hearts . . . again.
We lost 15-6; man, even the score was pathetic. We figured folks would need a little more help than usual recovering from that abrupt conclusion to the season (or, for that matter, from this year's equally pathetic season-opening loss in Cincinnati).
So here's our guide to getting pumped up for another NFL campaign. Whether you're struggling with your commitment to the team or looking for new ways to prove your unwavering loyalty, we think we've got you covered . . . just like Chris McAlister on a Browns wide receiver.
Place a Bet In Vegas
You're a big fan, and you love to tell everyone about how much you bleed purple and black. Maybe it's time to put your money where your beak is and drop a bet (in Vegas, where gambling is legal, of course) on the Ravens. Not that you need any extra rooting incentive, but at press time, odds were an enticing 20-to-1 on them winning the Lombardi Trophy. If you're playing it safe, you can snag 10-to-1 odds to win the AFC Championship. But as favorites to repeat as AFC North champs, you'll only get a measly 3-to-2 line.
Mike Sher is one fan who likes the look of those Vegas lines. He cashed in for a cool $2,100 in Sin City when the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV. "I made the bet in October that year," says Sher, brother of former WBAL Radio sports host Greg Sher. "I think it was Halloween weekend, the middle of the touchdown drought." He got 20-to-1 odds back then, same as now. Some suckers would call that "coincidence." We call it "an omen."
Tale Of a Turncoat
What reflects the superiority of the Baltimore Ravens more than a defector from another team's ranks? Nothing, that's what. Ask Baltimorean Aaron Kuchinski, who used to root for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Alas, we all make these naïve childhood mistakes, but for Kuchinski, good sense prevailed in the end. He now bears only love in his heart for the Ravens and loathing for the suckers from Steel City.
"I grew up hating the Redskins because my dad hated them and hated Jack Kent Cooke because he felt he'd kept Baltimore from getting a team," says Kuchinski. But as far as rooting interests went, Pittsburgh seemed like the next best thing to him, being somewhat regional."
Shortly after I started following them, they hired Bill Cowher and got pretty good," he continues. "I watched them a lot. The year they lost the Super Bowl to Dallas was probably the peak."
But then the Ravens came to town. The first season they were here, Kuchinski rooted for both teams. "When they played each other, I rooted for the home team," he admits. "But the following year, it started to feel . . . wrong." Soon after, he swore sole allegiance to the Ravens, eschewing the black and gold of Pittsburgh for the manlier purple of Crabtown.
Aaron Kuchinski: man of gridiron integrity.
The Super Fan Checklist
So you want to be in the same league as Sports Steve, where people recognize you as a true super fan? You might want to start with our handy checklist. The essentials for anyone calling themselves a die-hard Ravens fan.
1 Put together a tailgating feast for at least 30 people.
2 Go to an away game and bring at least one opposing fan to tears (children under 12 don't count).
3 Join a Ravens Roost. You can find a list of the roosts at councilrr.com. They're organized geographically, so you'll be encouraged to join the roost in your area. But if you really, really want to start your own, you'll need at least 25 people to apply.
4 Get a Ravens tattoo. Stick with logos, though. Names (or, worse, images) of players gets a little weird.
5 Purchase an old school bus or RV and cover it with as many Ravens logos and cans of purple paint as possible. Bonus points if it plays the Ravens fight song or catapults dead animals into the tailgate zones of opposing fans.
6 Become a regular caller to the local sports talk radio shows. Hey, Mr. Opinionator, think you know strategy better than Brian Billick? Test your playcalling theories on the rest of the fanbase. WJFK-AM 1300's Mark Viviano weighs in with some tips for novice callers:
- I appreciate a caller who is passionate, but whose comment is concise and well-supported.
- I like to be able to engage the caller with my own questions—to tap into their passion and get them to further share their opinion.
- We don't have to agree. In fact, it's more fun when we don't—so long as we're not yelling at each other.
- No yelling. That's hard to listen to.
- And most importantly, have your facts straight. Don't call in with lame conspiracy theories. For example: the NFL hates Baltimore so the refs are instructed to screw the Ravens on calls. You get no voice on my show if that's what you're bringing. We're a more intelligent football city than that.
Just because the No Fun League fines the players for excessive celebration doesn't mean you have to sit on your hands.
Try Steve McNair's "Q Dogs" for a touchdown:
Or, if you're brave enough, try number 52's signature dance moves:
Choosing a Jersey
Priority number one for any serious fan is owning a jersey. But it can't be just any Todd, Bart, or Haloti. It has to tell the rest of the stadium just what you stand for. And with the advent of free agency, you don't want to get stuck with a closet full of Deion Sanders jerseys. Choosing the right jersey requires proper thought.
Herewith, some guidelines:
- Those "19" Unitas Ravens jerseys will never go out of style
- Avoid punters
- Avoid players who are now on another AFC North team (i.e. no half-price Jamal Lewis jerseys)
Pro: The easy choice.
Con: You'll be just one of thousands of "52" jerseys in the stands.
Pro: It's what all the female fans wear.
Con: It's what all the female fans wear.
Pro: Intelligent folks know he's the best safety in the league.
Con: Except for last season, when he wasn't.
Pro: The best QB the team's ever had.
Con: How many years can you get out of it?
What other jerseys say about you:
Jonathan Ogden Your favorite song is "Someone To Watch Over Me."
Willis McGahee You bought an iPhone.
Mark Clayton You have your luxury sports car detailed weekly.
Kelly Gregg Your other vehicle is a John Deere.
Terrell Suggs You are constantly asked to escort friends down dark alleys.