There is an awesome buzz here in the Land of Pleasant Living these days. Fans are intoxicated by the Baltimore Ravens.
Everywhere you look there’s purple. There are purple lights; purple buildings; purple vehicles, faces, hair, finger nails. Folks everywhere are rocking their Ravens gear and tattoo artists throughout town are being asked to ink up their customers with menacing birds and colorful logos.
Game day always has a special vibe about it during the regular season and a Sunday win paves the way to a celebratory start to any work week. Conversely a Sunday loss usually opens the door to a gloomy Monday and a seemingly extraordinarily long wait to the following game – Redemption Sunday.
Today there’s little doubt that the anticipation of tomorrow’s game is exponentially greater than a regular season contest and a win tomorrow punches the Ravens’ ticket to the AFC Championship game and even more purple celebrations.
But there’s a down side too.
A loss during the regular season for a competitive team like the Ravens is followed by a chance to dust off, correct mistakes and win the next game. Therein lays the silver lining – the consolation prize.
There is no consolation prize during the playoffs.
So while the highs are loftier, the lows are deeper. A regular season loss is a stumble down the path, a speed bump in the fast lane. A playoff loss is like a long walk on a short pier; a plummet from a cliff.
That fall won’t happen this week and it may not happen at all. The way I see it, the Ravens will not only beat the Texans but they’ll cover the 7 ½ point line. My prediction, 23-10. As for the other games, I have the 49ers beating the Saints in what odds makers would call a mild upset and the Giants in a bigger upset over the Packers at Lambeau.
Tonight’s game features Brady v. Tebow and while the magic of Tebow has been fun albeit beaten to death (thanks for nothing you windbag Skip Bayless), it will end at around 11:30PM when the Patriots take down the Broncos in a laugher.
And this is where it gets a bit interesting and in some ways somber.
Should the Ravens in fact venture on a road trip to Foxboro next Sunday (3:00 kickoff), tomorrow’s game against the Texans could be the last time we see Ray Lewis and Ed Reed emerge from the tunnel at M&T Bank Stadium.
If the Ravens are successful and they run off a three game winning streak on their way to a second Super Bowl title, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of reason – many might even say it’s probable, that both of these locks for the Hall of Fame will retire.
And you know what, that is exactly how I would like to see it unfold.
These two greats, two players from “The U” who helped change our lives with their athletic prowess, leadership and attachment to the community could not only go out as world champions but also be enshrined in Canton together on the very same stage. The thought of that makes me a little misty – really!
There is no doubt that Ray is showing signs of aging and diminishing skills. Ed has been struggling with that nerve impingement for no less than 3 seasons, hanging on because he loves the game and yearns for that ring. Add another year to the mix and consider that teams in the modern era rarely go to the playoffs five consecutive seasons.
Do we want to remember their final days struggling, hurting and aging before our eyes?
Of course we would miss them. “The Dance” would be forever gone and the electric chants of Reeeeeed while echoing in eternity in our minds would no longer fill M&T Bank Stadium. Wouldn’t it be better to see them exit in a blaze of glory?
So while you are in your seat tomorrow or you are somewhere watching the game on TV, take pause and watch both of these men a little longer, soak it in and try to remember and appreciate how blessed we’ve all been to call these men “ours.”
Because if this season ends the way we all hope, tomorrow could be their Baltimore swansong.