"Sports Steve" LaPlanche is about as dedicated as sports fans get. And he's got the credentials to prove it: Ray Lewis may have been on the cover of the Madden NFL 2005 video game, but Sports Steve is in the game as the featured Ravens fan. Here's why he's our hero.
1 "If I don't stand up for every single third down, everyone in my section gets on my case."
2 Cap and cape are from the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Cape is all-wool. Mountain Cleaners in Pasadena does all the dry-cleaning and sewing of patches.
3 Black face paint is designed to resemble a Raven flying straight at you; mustache adds texture effect to the bird feathers.
4 This strand of beads was a gift from former offensive lineman Edwin Mulitalo.
5 Total weight of beads is currently 48 pounds. Adds two strands every home game. Beads are worn for 7-8 hours each game day. All new strands are now hand made by Steve. Always drives to away games because he can no longer get beads easily through airport security. Beads take 45-60 minutes to untangle after each game. Initially stayed away from gold beads, lest they get mistaken for Steelers colors. But after one Ravens victory over Pittsburgh, a Steelers fan whose bus was tailgating near Sports Steve's donated a strand of gold beads as a sign of respect.
6 Underneath cape are camo pants and an authentic jersey—purple, white, or black, depending on what the team is wearing.
7 "I don't drink much at the games because, well, it's a little hard to go to the bathroom in all this."
8 Has attended every Baltimore NFL home game since 1956.
9 Cape is inspired by a Colts cape Johnny Unitas (a close family friend) gave to Steve when he was 6. He guesses he's put about $800 into the Ravens cape alone.
10 Recently ordered 15 dozen new beads from a company in New Orleans. He plans on adding beads until he can't take it anymore. "People ask me all the time for beads, but I can't do it. I have to add, not subtract. I don't know how much money I've spent on beads."
11 Appears as Sports Steve for free regularly at charity events. Currently arranging, out of his own pocket, to have Sports Steve bobbleheads made to give away at charity events.
12 Why he does it: "When Irsay took the team from Baltimore, he claimed that the passion wasn't there anymore from the fans. I vowed that no owner would ever be able to say that as long as I was around."
13 Has been a member of Ravens Roost 18 since 1978—back when it was a Colts Corral. On game days, he's up at 6 am to shower and shave. Makeup goes on at 7 am. Ravens Roost bus leaves around 9:30 for the stadium. Tailgates for a bit. Then he heads to Ravens walk to touch Johnny U.'s statue, chat with his friends at 98Rock, and sign autographs.
Visit Sports Steve's website here.