Super Bowl XXXV or XLVII?


Yesterday marked the 13th anniversary of the Ravens Super Bowl XXXV victory at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The date triggers emotions and memories for all Ravens’ fans – a day that will go down as an unforgettable one in Baltimore folklore.

During the summer leading into the 2000 season, a friend and I vowed to make our way down to Tampa for the Super Bowl without regard for the participants and for no defining reason other than a desire to witness the grandest stage in all of professional sports.

Little did we know that our fortunes would take a dramatic turn north when our very own Ravens rode the shoulders of a once in a lifetime DE-FENSE to an NFL title.

Fresh off an 8-8 season, no one expected so much from the Ravens. There’s nothing more exhilarating than achieving something that seems impossible – to blow through the walls of expectation. There’s an enormous sense of accomplishment when that happens and as a result one could argue that no matter what the Ravens accomplish from this point forward, as fans we will never again realize the sheer joy afforded by Super Bowl XXXV.

And that includes the Super Bowl XLVII win over the San Francisco 49ers.

The victory in Super Bowl XXXV wasn’t just one for the team, Brian Billick, Art Modell or the organization. It was one for an entire community – a community scarred by the departure of the Colts and repeated rejections by the NFL.

From the time Bob Irsay and his cronies high-tailed it out of town on a snowy night in March of 1984 right up to the arrival of the Ravens in 1996, Baltimore played the role of the jilted lover. The city attempted to land an expansion franchise in 1993 but lost out to Carolina and Jacksonville.

Paul Tagliabue suggested that instead of investing in the NFL, perhaps Baltimore should build a museum – an ill advised quip that will always be linked to the mere mention of the name “Tagliabue.”

The night before that historical evening of January 28, 2001, I happened to be in the Ravens team hotel. I bumped into Billy Davis who I had met on several previous occasions and I asked him how he felt. I’ll never forget Davis’ response – a player who was a repeat Super Bowl winner as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

“I’ve been here before and I have never been part of a team this well prepared to win.”

The look in Davis’ eyes was that of unwavering confidence. These weren’t just words but rather a statement of conviction and will – a will that the team collectively exerted upon the seemingly defenseless New York Giants.

After the game, Ravens fans both old and very new basked in a communal glow of purple, black and gold as celebratory confetti tumbled from the sky.

The moment seemed to stand still in time – a freeze frame of life interrupted by the words of then Ravens owner Art Modell as he stood at the podium beside the vilified Tagliabue.

“This is for the people of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and the State of Maryland.”

On that night, Baltimore received its official validation. We were back in the NFL and back in a very big way. No longer was there a feeling of the jilted lover; no longer did Tagliabue’s silly little statement rip at your soul; no longer did the Colts’ clandestine exodus seem as painful.

We were World Champions and Silver Betty was coming home to Baltimore!

Upon leaving the stadium I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Yet while I would never have traded my first hand experience in Tampa that weekend, I immediately wanted to be home.

I wanted to be part of my community.

I wanted to be with all of my friends and family and dance with them through the streets of Baltimore.

In a sudden and strange way, I was homesick.

Little did we know on that glorious night that the Ravens over the course of the next five seasons would win only one playoff game and appear in only three.

In 2008 John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco helped to change all of that and since, save for the hiccup of 2013, the Ravens have not only been to the playoffs during 5 of those 6 seasons, they also won a playoff game each time they’ve been to the dance, advanced to three conference championships and of course they brought home a second Lombardi Trophy.

It’s been a great run under John Harbaugh and there’s no reason to believe that the team won’t get back on track in 2014. A little organizational humility particularly for the coaching staff, a bitter pill no doubt, could prove to be the right medicine for Steve Bisciotti’s company.

But that said, when comparing the two championships, XXXV shines brighter. In the same way that the 1958 NFL Championship Game put Baltimore on the map, XXXV put the town BACK on the NFL stage, front and center.

As a city of champions we matured as a football community in 2001. We became better fans and the collective football IQ swelled. XLVII solidified our place among the league’s best franchises but XXXV was the launching pad.

In time, someday in future years as we grow more removed from XLVII, XXXV will be universally viewed as the more important achievement for Charm City.

That team’s identity was clear – tough, strong-willed, workmanlike and brave.

It was quintessential Baltimore.

Which Ravens Super Bowl victory was more significant to you?
XXXV (41%)
XLVII (59%)
This poll has completed. Thank you for voting.
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About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

14 Raves on “Super Bowl XXXV or XLVII?

  1. Mike Bernstein on said:

    I picked 47 because of the years leading up to that championship. After enduring Coach Billick’s final season in Baltimore, the AFC Championship appearance the next year with a rookie QB and coach finally gave me hope. That hope reappeared each season after as the Ravens rolled off win after win until the season ended prematurely. After the AFC Championship loss to New England, a game that in my opinion should have been won, even after that disappointment, I knew something great was about to happen. When they finally took home the hardware, it reaffirmed to me why I was a fan of this wonderfully frustrating game. That’s why 47 will always be more special to me as a fan.

  2. JerryB on said:

    The first one is always special; however, their unlikely return last year, let alone winning it and the manner in which they swept to the championship, is just as special, in my opinion! And, incidentally, to your detractors, who don’t understand the difference between opinions and facts, you just keep on keepin’ on, Tony, because you write it the way you see and feel it. Nothing could be more honest…….

  3. Hype MAN on said:

    I would Have to say Super Bowl XXXV was MORE significant because it TRULY Cemented the #Baltimore #RAVENS Team and LEGACY into the Hearts and Minds Of ALL #Baltimorians. After this CHAMPIONSHIP WIN Fandom and SUPPORT of the #Baltimore #RAVENS “Exploded” and it also Solidified us as a MainSTAY & SUCCESSFUL FRANCHISE in the NFL. No Matter How Much Sum of the BIG WIGs of the NFL Hated Bmore Getting a TEAM, after this Championship Win & Revitalized Support Of our FANBASE THE #Baltimore RAVENS were DEF here to STAY (This SB WIN Ended any and ALL Thoughts in the Minds of LOYALS that the NFL would find a WAY to take Football From Baltimore Again)(By the way WE WOULD RIOT in the STREETS haha Nah #4real)…I also think the 1st SB Championship Defined the Ravens as the TOP NOTCH Organization and #Fanbase that we are Today….This IMO Started It ALL including the PHENOM that is #RAVENsNATION The GREATEST FANBASE/FAMILY in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE……This was the Beginning of sumthing MAGICAL in BALTIMORE that STILL Carries on till this day…. #Baltimore LIVES and BREATHES Its SPORTS…And Im Damn PROUD to be a PART Of It………Go #RAVENS #BallSoHard #Caw #Caw #TheFlockCantBeStopped #RevengeOftheRaven

  4. ERey on said:

    I picked 47 for several reasons. One, I was there. Two, I had just become a football fan in 1996 and I didn’t really understand the game until 1999 or so. I had not lived through any heart-breaking losses before 2000. I’m not sure I had a full appreciation back in 2000 for just how hard it is for a team to win it all. Plus, the Ravens didn’t really have any true rivalries in 2000. By time they got back in 2012 they had a decades worth of great wins and heartbreaking losses, and then being in New Orleans made it that much sweeter. In any event, both were great wins.

  5. DarthSizzle55 on said:

    This may be my fave of your articles. I own both sets of DVD’s there was just something about XXXV team that was awesome. I miss those types of games.

  6. RustonRifle on said:

    Excellent work as always Tony,

    I voted XLVII because it helped validate the organization as one of the premier franchises in the NFL. I’d love to see another in the next five years, here’s hoping

  7. Jacob Caralle on said:

    I would have to go with 47. This is because everybody counted us out after loosing 3 out of the last 4, and doubted Ray Lewis. We came back in an amazing way and went on a roll to win the four most exciting Ravens games ever. How can you forget beating the future of the NFL in the Colts, beat Peyton Manning in the mile high with Jacoby Jones Mircale and double overtime, then revenge on Brady, just for harbaugh to beat his brother in the super bowl

  8. Malteseterp on said:

    I go with Super Bowl XLVII because my wife and I were able to attend it. We then spent the next week in New Orleans with friends celebrating the victory and attending Mardi Gras parades. We have been fortunate enough to go on some amazing vacations over the years, but as my wife told me the other day, “The trip to New Orleans for the Super Bowl was the best trip that we have ever taken”

  9. T on said:

    All Super Bowls have a special place in the teams history, but I picked XXXV. I am a defensive kind of mind and that football season said it all about defenses. It taught other organizations how D’s win championships. It’s not always about the offense and it was nice seeing someone other then a quarterback win a MVP award!!

  10. Shawn on said:

    All Super Bowls are special, only 47 teams (as of right this second) can claim to have won a super bowls, and even fewer can claim they have won multiple championships. But to me Super bowl 47 is more special because I was able to enjoy the run and truly understand the importance and what it meant as I watched the last few games of #52 great career. Looking back at the first Super Bowl, I was 13 at the time, and I was just excited to have my favorite team win, I really did not understand just how important it was.

  11. Chris on said:

    Definitely XXXV. Late 96 to late 97, my family had suffered several losses and those years after were an extremely difficult time of adjustments and other things. But that 2000 Ravens team was a huge bright spot for us. There was so much excitement and joy around the whole area and it was so great to be a part of.

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