I didn’t know.
I didn’t know how historic Memorial Stadium was or that I was witnessing a football game being played by future legends such as Brett Favre, Reggie White, Ray Lewis, and Jonathan Ogden.
I didn’t know how stacked the Ravens organization was, having men like Ozzie Newsome, Phil Savage, and Scott Pioli in their pro personnel department and five future head coaches (three NFL, two NCAA D-1) on their staff in addition to Ted Marchibroda.
I didn’t know that in 484 days, Memorial Stadium would see it’s last professional football game.
What I did know is that I was thankful. I was thankful to my dad for getting me a ticket to my first football game; thankful to Mr. Modell for bringing football back to Baltimore; and thankful that in five short years this “start up” franchise would be the best in the world.
On a rainy, 85-degree, mid-August night, 62,025 people packed Memorial Stadium to watch a preseason game. They were watching two teams that would soon be Super Bowl champions (Green Bay that season, Baltimore four years later). They were watching, depending on their age, the establishment or return of one of their biggest passions: pro football.
The Packers beat the Ravens that night, 17-15. The Ravens had an 8:17 advantage in time of possession, ran 12 more offensive plays, and were penalized less than the Packers but still lost. That didn’t matter to me.
What mattered to me was that I was with my dad in Memorial Stadium watching a new team. My team.
The Orioles were doing really well at the time and I wasn’t expecting a football team to come to Baltimore. Before the Ravens came to town I was a Cowboys fan. Yes, really. At least I picked a great team to root for, though.
But when I first saw the Ravens play under the lights, I thought: “Wow. This is exciting. I want to be a part of this.” In other words, I was in. Though I still liked baseball, football became my favorite sport. One year later, I started playing football myself.
18 years, seven months and four days after that memorable night, I still remember my first Ravens game. I remember the passionate, dedicated Baltimore fans reuniting after a 12-year separation.
Although these Ravens were new and rough around the edges, we were all very happy to have them.
Footnote: [from the Game Day program]
MARCHIBRODA ON DEVELOPING THE LINEBACKERS AND ROOKIE LB RAY LEWIS:
“We’ll have had training camp and four preseason games in addition. Ray will come around. He’ll come around because he wants to come around, and he’s working to come around. He’ll do the job for us.”