May best (Ravens) name (Ravens) win

JOHN EISENBERG

August 17, 1993|By JOHN EISENBERG

Attention Rhino-busters, Maddenheads, Colt Corralers, Redskins haters, Flat Earth Society members, inveterate male bonders, Irsay voodoo doll owners and all other Baltimore football fans: Only one day left to get in your say as we provisionally name our provisional NFL expansion team.

I am referring, of course, to The Baltimore Sun's Name-That-Team Survey, which, miraculously for this era of fan disconnectedness, disgruntledness and general empty-pocketedness, might actually make a difference.

Doubt it? You must have missed Boogie backtracking (back-boogying?) faster than a Bert Jones-to-Roger Carr touchdown last week when the Rhinos thing went public and everyone, or just about, cried foul.

(Actually, they cried, "Are they kidding? Have they been playing with little toy dinosaurs or something? Can we sue? Someone call Stephen L. Miles!")

My favorites were the people who said they didn't even want the team if it was the Rhinos. Please. They can call it the Baltimore Ed Nortons for all I care as long as we get the team.

Anyway, shockingly, the voice of the people actually had weight this time. Said a chastened Boogie on an HTS broadcast of an Orioles-Yankees game over the weekend: "I just want people to know, this Rhino thing isn't etched in stone. . . ."

So, when you cast your vote in the Name-That-Team survey (phone-in balloting ends tonight; write-in votes will be accepted through Friday) do so with the knowledge that the expansion name-gamers are paying attention. Then, do the right thing and vote for the best name: The Rhavens.

Oh, wait. Sorrhy about that. I must still have Rhinos on the brhain.

I meant Ravens.

If we can't get the Colts name back from Indy -- and just forget about it, people, it ain't gonna happen, not unless we name our team the Baltimore 500 and offer to trade -- I like the Baltimore Ravens. Let me count the reasons:

1. It honors Edgar Allan Poe, who lived here for years. Seeing as the NFL is forcing us to be politically correct, it would make a terrific statement for "The City That Reads" to honor a writer.

2. Ravens are mean. They're scavengers. They kick ornithological rear. They just plain don't like anyone else.

3. It would create a particularly handy bird motif for fans, who could utilize their "Go Birds" banners all year.

Some of the other candidates aren't so bad, mind you. Baltimore Hons would be interesting, although the team mascot would be a 65-year-old waitress with a hairnet. And Baltimore Crabs would be fitting, except all we do with crabs is eat them, so what are we saying?

The other names aren't so hot. Bees? I got stung by a bee last week. Forget them. Bombers? Why name a team after a jacket? Dinosaurs? A Maryland state legislator did attempt to have the Astrodon named the official state dinosaur last year, so we could name the new stadium the AstrodonDome. Just a thought.

Actually, at the risk of instigating another fax attack here at The Sun sports bunker, I wouldn't mind Rhinos. Sure, it's goofy and obscure and has nothing to do with Baltimore, but I kind of like it.

I'm Panthered-out. Stallioned-out. I want anything except a name from the old school. Baltimore Rhinos might be more hilarious than fearsome, but it would be new and fun. I would pay good money for a "Let's Rhumble" cap and a snout horn. And, hey, we could call them the O's.

Oh, well. To paraphrase Admiral Stockdale, I'm out of ammo on this one. I can't argue with the opinion that Rhinos is just too eccentric. This is, after all, the NFL, where all left-footed kickers and Ivy Leaguers are suspected subversives.

Besides, I think it's important that the name reflect the city's culture and history. Maybe that doesn't matter in Charlotte, where expansion officials are zeroing in on Panthersszzzzzz, but, as the Rhinos uproar demonstrates, it's important here that the name have some symbolism.

Which brings us back around to Ravens. Maybe it sounds funny now. But everything except Colts is going to sound funny until we get used to it. And Ravens is a perfect blend of local history and fearsomeness.

Yes, it's true Poe was born in Boston, drank too much, got kicked out of West Point and lived in New York, Philadelphia and Virginia as well as Baltimore. But what do you want, perfection? He was a genius, and our genius. His family still lives here.

Besides, close your eyes and envision this. It's a big game on a chilly December afternoon, tie score, fourth quarter. The other team has the ball, driving. And the famous new cry of Baltimore football thunders out from the upper deck:

"Nevermore! Nevermore!"

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