Apparently I’m not alone. The NFL’s TV ratings were through the roof in Week 1. People around Baltimore are buzzing about the Ravens being Superbowl contenders. In D.C. there’s a sense of hope now that the owner has abdicated power to a real GM and coach. Both teams are 1-0 after hard-fought games against punk rivals.
Life is good.
When I began working in Baltimore, the Ravens had recently won the Super Bowl. I rooted for them against the Giants and liked the defense-minded squad led by Ray Lewis — the best player I’d seen since Lawrence Taylor. And after Irsay did the unthinkable, I was glad Baltimore had a winner again.
What surprised me, though, is that the goodwill doesn’t necessarily extend 35 miles south. In fact, my boss seemed genuinely perturbed when he found out I’m a Redskins fan. He says they now have an additional question during interviews. I’m not sure he’s joking.
There’s one saving grace, though: I’m not a Steelers fan. I think Maryland employment lawyers and judges have a tacit understanding that that’s a fireable offense.
In my defense, I grew up a Redskins fan during their golden age. Four Super Bowl appearances and three Lombardi trophies in an 11-year span ain’t too shabby.
Games at RFK stadium were legendary. Jack Kent Cooke and Joe Gibbs were an owner and coach from central casting. The players were characters, too. The Hogs, the Smurfs, the Fun Bunch, Dexter, Monk, Green, Mosley, Theisman, and, of course, Riggo. What a run.
For the past decade, however, the Skins have been an embarrassment. During that time, the Ravens, their stadium, their fans, their tailgate parties and their bars have filled the void on occasion. Ed Reed has been my favorite player. Steve Bisciotti and Ozzie Newsome are a dream team. Ray Ray is still a beast (although his new Old Spice commercials are a bit squirrely).
The best part? The Ravens are named for a poem by a macabre literary genius and have mascots named Edgar, Allan, and Poe. For an English major, that’s a no-brainer.
Here’s the point: Can’t we all just get along this year and hope we meet in Dallas for The Party to End All Parties? Can you imagine a Redskins/Ravens Super Bowl in a 100,000-seat stadium?! How cool would it be to ship in bushels of crabs and crack them open during the tailgate madness in the shadow of Jerry’s stadium? It’s the stuff dreams are made of.
Santa, you’re on notice. Go Skins. Go Ravens.