It was one week ago today that I was a nervous wreck.
Super Bowl XLVII!
The Baltimore Ravens v. the San Francisco 49ers.
Sixty minutes away from being named World Champions.
And it happened.
The Ravens hoisted The Lombardi, visited Disneyworld, made their way around the late night talk show circuit and soon they will be fitted for their Super Bowl bling and visit the White House.
What an improbable season!
Through the injuries, the tragedies, the loss of identity, the late season firing of the offensive coordinator and the retirement announcement the Ravens somehow maintained their collective focus and never lost faith even when those who cover the team, myself included, believed they would be an early exit in the postseason.
It didn’t go down that way.
During the week leading into the Week 16 game against the New York Giants we heard that the Ravens had an excellent week of practice. That they were as healthy as they had been all season and that soon Ray Lewis would return to the field.
We listened but didn’t believe. We had to see it on the field.
And then we did.
Looking like a finely tuned machine the Ravens dismantled the defending champions and then a couple of weeks later the Colts. It was then that comparisons to the last two Super Bowl Champions began to surface – teams that weathered obstacles but gelled at the right time and rode a wave of momentum right through the rain of confetti that falls upon the last team standing.
Initially it felt surreal. The unbelievable journey was littered with naysayers. Each week the Ravens were regularly listed as prohibitive underdogs. Only we believed.
And then there was the unusual Super Bowl itself, characterized by a mind-boggling tale of halves accentuated by a poorly timed power outage.
But now, reality has arrived and the crowning is real. We are the champions!
I once thought that there was no way that any Super Bowl winning season could match that of the 2000 season. It was the first for the organization and it totally blew through the roof of expectations.
But I stand corrected.
This one was better for all of the aforementioned reasons. It wasn’t just a journey; it was much more like a coming of age story featuring an oft-criticized and inconsistent quarterback who finally got his groove on and a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Fame player who closed the book on a remarkable career with an exclamation point that every player dreams of.
The story had a fairy tale ending. Our MVP quarterback paraded the streets of Disney. Even the Magic Kingdom with all of its infinite imagination and the regular encouragement to wish upon stars could never have written a story for Ravens fans like this one.
Dreams can come true.