Baltimore-area sports bars were buzzing with Super Bowl fans last night, and their allegiances were not discernible.
Most of the crowds guzzling beer and dining on hors d'oeuvres were either with the Washington Redskins or against them, choosing to back the Buffalo Bills with anti-Redskins sentiments rather than pro-Bills loyalty.
"We're actually Steelers fans," said Todd Jackson of Erie, Pa., at the All-American Sports Bar. "So go, AFC."
His co-worker at a government agency in Washington, Greg Corsi, is another Pittsburgh backer originally from Greensburg, Pa., and he said he was supporting the Bills "because I'm just getting tired of hearing about the Redskins. It makes you hate them."
The crowd at this establishment was mostly young, well-behaved and absorbed in the game as long as it remained competitive, which wasn't very long. The Redskins roared to a 24-0 lead and coasted to the title with relative ease.
"I was racked for weeks after we lost to Dallas," said Redskins fanatic Michael Luke of Baltimore, who was born and raised in Washington. "She [his team] is all I know. I die hard. If Baltimore gets a new team, I'll have to treat it like a beloved stepchild."
Luke has managed to convert his friend, Mark Carter of Columbia, formerly a Baltimore Colts fan.
"You've got to go with the best thing you've got," he said. "When they signed Joe Gibbs, I became a Redskins fan. I think all these other old Colts fans are jealous of the Redskins' success. I don't care if they're playing Molly Potts' All-Stars, you have to go with the 'Skins."
The establishment charged a $1 cover, which went to the Ronald McDonald House, and gave away a color television set donated by a White Marsh firm. The result was a large crowd.
Bill Zarycki of Philadelphia said he became a Redskins backer 10 years ago because "I like their style of play. They're intelligent and they know how to pick apart an opponent. I'm an Eagles fan, but not when they play the Redskins."
He and Ed Whitbeck drove to the All-American Sports Bar from Philadelphia because they wanted to be around fellow Redskins loyalists. "We wanted to be where the Redskins fans were and the action is," Zarycki said. "It wouldn't be like this back home."
At Balls sports bar on Pratt Street, which featured a free buffet, manager Chris Amato was overseeing a crowd of 300 that contained "a lot of mad Bills fans. There are a lot of regulars, but also some drop-ins."
One was Mill Kram, a native of Niagara Falls, N.Y., who now works for Texas Instruments in this area. He was clearly identifiable by a Bills' No. 12 jersey, that of quarterback Jim Kelly.
"I know a lot of people from Baltimore who just don't like the Redskins," said Kram during the halftime break. "So today they're with me. But it doesn't look good for us. One touchdown pulled back, some bad calls."
"I came with him," said an unidentified friend, "so I could give him a hard time. I actually could have been pretty nasty, but I took it easy on him. I never doubted the Redskins would win."