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Enjoy The Ride

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Photo Credit: Gail Burton, Associated Press
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If there’s one word I’d use to describe us as a Baltimore Ravens fanbase, it would undoubtedly be “spoiled.” At some point during the team’s decorated 26 year history, we started to expect many of the accolades that many franchises around the league haven’t achieved in nearly a century. With the team exceeding the expectations of most “experts” following the injury-riddled pre-season, and boasting a 5-2 record at the bye week, let’s take some time to reflect on just how fortunate we are to have Coach Harbaugh & his “53 Mighty Men” representing us.

I’ve been fortunate to get to know several of the players on a personal level, thanks to our unique relationship with the team as a family-owned business. Will Demps is virtually the 4th Minadakis brother, I’m the Godfather of Torrey Smith’s eldest son, and Ray Rice has probably participated in over 100 charity events with us at the drop of a dime. Marlon Humphrey & Ronnie Stanley ignited The Famous Fund a few months ago, which helped save 31 local bars & restaurants during the pandemic. The list goes on and on, but the one common denominator is that the organization actively recruits compassionate men who want to become part of the community and adopt Charm City as their home.

I could probably count on one hand the number of unpleasant experiences I’ve had with a Baltimore Ravens player, and that’s a credit to the scouts, ownership, and leadership. I’ve reached out to a few players this week to check in on their bye week plans, and every single one informed me that they had plans to do some charity work during their “break.” Granted, I don’t follow other teams as closely as I do The Ravens, but I do believe this is a defining characteristic unique to them. The culture has been set, and we are better as a city for it.

On the field, the team enjoys just as much success – evident by the pair of Lombardi Trophies taking up residency in Owings Mills. Surely, we all remember where we were when Brian Billick and John Harbaugh hoisted that majestic trophy over their heads – but we likely are just as quick to remember the moments that got us there. Who could forget Tony Siragusa knocking Rich Gannon out of the Raiders game? The Mile High Miracle is often considered the finest moment in Ravens History. How happy were you when Dannell Ellerbe picked off Tom Brady, avenging the previous year’s heartbreak?

[Related Article: It’s Not Pretty, But It’s Us]

See where I’m going with this?

Fans of other franchises would give up their first born children to have such a wide array of breathtaking memories – but we tend to think it’s our birth right around here. And those moments, of course, are just from the title years. I could just as quickly tell you where I was when Ray Rice took the ball to the house on the first play against New England, or when Marcus Peters ran for Tennessee’s logo. And that’s the greatest part of being a Ravens fan – the ride.

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Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

When your team wins the title in any sport, it’s great. But, what do you get out of it? Probably a $45 t-shirt, a parade you stand around for, and bragging rights over some drunk guy the next time you’re attending a road game. A sweet zinger on Twitter if that tickles your fancy. It’s the journey that makes it so riveting, and what makes our emotional investment so profound.

Think about how you felt about the team following the past two games – a lopsided win against The Chargers, and a blowout loss to The Bengals. We likely all overreacted after each one, but the true team probably lies somewhere in between – and I think we’re all pretty darn happy with that. The well-documented injuries which have plagued the roster this year, the difficulty of playing in The AFC North, and consistently getting the other team’s best performance could have been a recipe for us looking at Mock Drafts right now, but here we are – firmly in the playoff hunt. And this ride’s not even at its halfway point yet.

It’s been often (lazily) said by local “personalities” that the team plays down to their competition. Did someone ever stop to think that maybe the opponent is playing up to one of the model franchises in American sports? Agents, executives, and even players around the league are often quick to name Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and New England as the cream of the crop – which makes it easy to get the adrenaline going any given Sunday. Let’s face it – Cincinnati won’t be giving The Jets the same effort they displayed against us when they square off this Sunday. Part of being an elite franchise, of course, is having a loyal fanbase – and that’s where we come in.

The “Ravens Flock” fell in love with Art Modell’s team the second they came to Baltimore. As a one-team town for far too long, we were starving for a pro football team, evident by our support of The CFL’s Stallions, impressive attendance for preseason games, and several other well-documented signs of passion along the way. We tailgate like a college town, are consistently in the top tier of attendance, wear purple on Fridays, and tattoo logos all over our bodies. It’s a major selling point for the team when recruiting free agents – I know that for a fact. The franchise has created thousands of jobs locally, reinvigorated the Sunday bar scene, and given complete strangers a reason to bond at the grocery store due to a purple piece of clothing. Make no mistake about it – this is a football town now.

We have so much to be thankful for as Baltimoreans. 3 Hall of Famers – each of which could make a case for being the greatest to ever play the position, and a 4th on the way when he’s finished kicking 66-yard game winners. Stability at the quarterback position since Joe Cool was drafted, a rarity throughout the league. Playoff appearances on a virtually annual basis in The NFL, which doesn’t reward mediocrity in the manner the NBA & NHL do. Three head coaches in the history of the franchise – symbolic of the loyalty we show each other as citizens of this beautiful city. Two of the most respected general managers in the recent history of the league, a gameday experience which is constantly being enhanced, a social media team second to none, and so much more.

So, enjoy the bye week – and a stress-free Sunday. Come back ready to cheer the team on against Minnesota with your friends at The Bank, and most importantly…enjoy the ride. It’s been proven to be the best one in America.

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Click on the image above to join The Famous for the best tailgate party in town when the Ravens host the Vikings on November 7, 2021.

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