The Ravens experienced several peaks and valleys during the 2011 season. Despite a 12-4 record (13-5 overall) the campaign was gut-wrenching in many ways for Ravens fans. Some were frustrated, others teased by the club’s potential. Perhaps expectations were set artificially high during the Opening Day waxing of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In the end 2011 was a successful journey for the team, the city of Baltimore and all of the team’s fans both near and far – one that included an AFC North Division Title, a first round bye in the playoffs, a Divisional Round victory at home and 1 completed catch away from the franchise’s second Super Bowl appearance.
Maybe the suddenness of the journey’s end has left us reaching for answers or in some cases pointing the finger of blame. Others are even buying in to carefully crafted traps of deception set by the diabolical Bill Belichick.
At the end of the day what we do know is this – the proverbial brass ring, that Silver Betty and companion for the Ravens’ lone Lombardi Trophy was within our collective reach. Yet in a few fleeting seconds it was snatched away and now like 30 other teams the Ravens and their fans have to decompress, take in another Super Bowl without representation and look ahead to next season.
One of the tragedies in the loss to the Patriots in the AFCC is that it will be without a doubt the last time this exact collection of players comprises the Ravens roster. Each season there is a 20-25% turnover in the 53 man squad. Some fringe players will go. Others will feel the blade of the salary cap.
And then there are those like Todd Heap, Derrick Mason and Kelly Gregg who the Ravens parted ways with as part of a youth movement. Might there be another player or players who meet a similar fate in 2012?
This is the business side of football.
The players get it and after the past offseason, so too do the fans.
Fortunately for all of us emotionally invested (and more) in the team, solace can be found in the knowledge that the Ravens are guided by some of the league’s best leaders in the form of Steve Bisciotti, Dick Cass, Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and the entire front office. They will re-tool and augment the roster in the professionally successful way they always have. The additions and changes coupled with the battle tested experiences of the past four consecutive post season appearances will bode well for the Ravens.
And they’ll be back.
But until then as we mourn the sudden end of a season, let’s remember the good times, the fun times we experienced. The laughter and cheer; the new friendships, those re-kindled, other deepened.
We were there. We were all there. And despite some frustrating lows in retrospect it was a hell of a ride.
And chances are, we’ll do it again.