Throughout the past year, the city of Baltimore has become infatuated with Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker – and for Tucker, the feelings is mutual.
Plenty of stories have been told about Tucker’s celebrity impressions, freestyle rapping and multi-lingual opera performances. Yet there is something else that sets Tucker apart from many of his teammates.
The popular choice for many players on the Ravens roster is to reside not too far away from the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, MD. Given the grueling hours of preparation both physically and mentally, the last thing many players want to do is sit in traffic during their commute to and from work. For Tucker, he doesn’t mind a little bit more of a commute, so he can live like many other 23-year-old young professionals – in downtown Baltimore.
Living in a popular area was something that Tucker had done in college at the University of Texas, residing near Austin’s popular Barton Springs area.
“I always lived in a hopping neighborhood where I could walk to a bunch of different stuff,” Tucker said. “One thing I really like about Baltimore itself is that it’s not like a huge city, you can still have a large population living in a dense area and it feels like a big ol’ family.”
As Tucker commutes to work, he receives a daily reminder of what his work day is all about, passing a place he referred to as a coliseum or what most people in Baltimore will know as M&T Bank Stadium.
“For me, it puts me in the zone on my way to practice,” he said. “I see M&T Bank Stadium when I’m on the highway and it reminds me that when there are 70,000 plus people in it, it lets you know that you’re playing not just for yourself and your family, but an entire city full of passionate fans. So, that’s really cool.”
Simply check Tucker’s Instagram page to see how infatuated he’s become with Baltimore, a city in which he corrected himself from saying “like” to “love” as if he was speaking about a relationship.
“I really have come to like, I won’t even say like, I’ve really come to love this city and the surrounding areas,” Tucker said. “Maryland is such a cool place. It’s definitely different than my Texas roosts, but it’s fun out here.”
As any Marylander knows, Orioles baseball and picking crabs are two staples of a fun summer, which happens to be Tucker’s offseason. Adapting into Maryland culture is something Tucker has begun to do on a frequent basis.
“I never followed baseball at all until I got out here,” he said. “I still barely watch baseball on TV, but if the O’s are on I’m watching them.”
Tucker also tries to attend games as much as possible, sharing stories of when he realized he was available and deciding to go to a game five minutes before first pitch. Tucker threw out the honorary first pitch earlier this season, wearing a custom Orioles jersey, accompanied by his Super Bowl ring on his finger.
“There is nothing like a Major League Baseball atmosphere in the stadium,” he said. “You’ve got the hot dog in hand, watching your home team play. That’s something I didn’t necessarily have in Austin, but I’ve definitely adopted and have come to appreciate here.”
Tucker is now an honorary Marylander, and as any Marylander should, he has cracked open his fair share of Chesapeake Bay blue crabs. For someone not born and raised in Maryland, Tucker is satisfied with his crab picking technique.
“I’ve got a couple different [crab picking] techniques, but I’m still open to suggestions,” he said. “People will still nitpick at me that have lived here for the past twenty or so years, they’ll tell me that I’m doing something wrong or leaving meat on the crab.”
With training camp back in full swing, Tucker will be primarily focusing on football hopefully until February. When the season does end, Tucker and his friends have created an adventure list, with crabbing being one of their future endeavors.
“I haven’t been crabbing,” he said. “Crabbing is definitely one of those offseason activities that I’m looking to get into. I’m probably not going to be on Deadliest Catch anytime soon.”
Perhaps Tucker should just take up boating in the beginning if he believes that the Chesapeake Bay is anything like the Bering Sea.
For Tucker, training camp began just like his first one did, living in an Owings Mills hotel. He described the hotel as feeling like “home” but maybe that’s because he only had a mattress and a laptop in an apartment a few weeks into the 2012 season.
Luckily for Tucker, his performance last season was pivotal in the Ravens winning the Super Bowl and the team has decided to not even bring in another kicker for repetitions during training camp. It appears that Tucker will now not only have to extend his lease, but he’ll also have plenty more time to do some sight seeing here in The Land of Pleasant Living.