3-to-1 margin, fans name Poe's melancholy bird their favorite should Baltimore land NFL expansion team


August 27, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

Forget the beasts of the jungle. Scratch the horse family. And don't even mention prehistoric legacies.

Baltimore, home of the Orioles, has sided decisively with the birds once again.

This time, though, it's the Ravens who have captured the city's imagination, if not its heart.

By a margin of more than 3-to-1, fans have endorsed Ravens as the preferred nickname of a football team if Baltimore wins an NFL expansion team in October.

Ravens amassed 6,367 votes in The Baltimore Sun's Name-That-Team survey, which tabulated phone responses and

write-in ballots. The Ravens represented 29 percent of 21,626 responses over a one-week period.

Bombers finished a distant second with 1,953 votes and 9 percent. Bays nosed out the Rhinos by a scant 31 votes for third, each with 8 percent. Cobras and Crabs were a close fifth and sixth, respectively, with 5 percent of the vote.

Of those top six finishers, four had a strong connection to Baltimore. Ravens drew its popularity from an association with Edgar Allan Poe, who launched his literary career in Baltimore in 1832 and is buried here. "The Raven," a poem about a lost love, is Poe's most famous work.

Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House & Museum at 203 N. Amity St., said he was delighted about Poe's triumph in the field of football.

"That is as it should be," Mr. Jerome said yesterday. "Personally, I think it's an excellent name. It would definitely be a Baltimore name."

The wide margin of acceptance for Ravens was not lost on Bryan Glazer, son of Florida-based businessman Malcolm Glazer, who is competing for ownership of the prospective Baltimore expansion team.

"The reason Ravens dominated the survey was that it is one of the most commonly associated with the city of Baltimore," Mr. Glazer said. "The Orioles connection had a great deal to do with it. It's a similar bird, and people would be calling them both the birds. I think the fans feel comfortable with that. There's a natural play between the two."

Mr. Glazer said he appreciated the input from the public.

"The fact that over 21,000 people took time to write in or call in for their vote says a lot for the fans of Baltimore, that it means so much to them," he said.

"We're definitely going to take all of this into account. We're very happy it was done. The way everything turned out was good for the city."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said he was impressed by the extent of fan participation in the survey.

"We're excited about the tremendous response," he said. "Obviously, the team name is very important to the fans. And if Baltimore does get a team, we're confident club ownership will select a name the fans will embrace enthusiastically."

Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, a retail executive also seeking ownership of the would-be team, said his preference still was Bombers, despite the survey.

"You've got to keep something in mind," he said. "People who vote only have the name in mind. [But] what kind of logo would you use with Bays? Rhinos, even though it offended people, makes a great logo. I like Ravens. But I like Bombers better, myself."

Mr. Weinglass met with the Glazers and NFL Properties earlier this month to discuss possible nicknames, and arrived at Rhinos. But when the name was proposed publicly on Aug. 11, it kicked up a controversy.

The backlash caused all parties to rethink the choice, at least temporarily. The second choice in that meeting was Ravens.

"If I use Ravens," Mr. Weinglass said, "I won't get booed again, like I did with Rhinos."

The survey produced a lengthy list of potential names, and included 19 votes for Orioles, 21 for Boogies, and 477 for Hons, a colloquialism that finished eighth in the balloting.

Two suggested names from the Sundial phone survey that finished well behind the pack were Bees, which totaled 185 votes, and Dinosaurs, with only 65.

Stallions, with 599 votes, and Mustangs, with 281, led the write-in candidates.

Altogether, there were 13 names from the horse family, including the name of the team that left here for Indianapolis in 1984. The Colts drew 143 write-in votes, and derivatives Bolts and Colts II accounted for 97 more.

The Colts trademark, however, belongs to Indianapolis owner Robert Irsay. Jim Irsay, his son and general manager, last week said the name is not for sale.

Mr. Weinglass said he was shying away from a horse name, anyway. "We're trying not to be a stepchild to the Colts," he said. "It's time to start a new era."

As Mr. Jerome pointed out, that would be another reason Ravens fits the bill. In "The Raven," Poe writes of a man who is faced with the loss of his beloved Lenore.

"A man has lost his love, his wife, and he's sitting in the den wishing things were the way they used to be," Mr. Jerome said. "In this moment, a raven appears. The raven was taught only one word, 'Nevermore.' The man pleads with the raven: 'Will things be as they were?' The raven repeats 'Nevermore.' The man realizes at the end of the poem things will never be the same.

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