NFL race turned Baltimore into The City that Whines

December 03, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

Let me get this straight: Baltimore is making fun of Jacksonville?

Because we are so urbane and cosmopolitan and they are such hicks and rubes?

Everybody living in a glass house, please grab a stone.

C'mon, folks. Where do we get off sneering at Jacksonville?

Remember how people used to sneer at Baltimore?

Remember how it hurt?

It is easy to be gracious in victory. What takes real character is to be gracious in defeat.

But how much character are some people in Baltimore showing right now?

Everybody putting down Jacksonville should actually go down there. I think they will find the people there neither living in trees nor walking around barefoot. The people are, in fact, pretty much like us. They have cable TV and McDonald's and everything.

So what was Jacksonville's sin?

It put together a nice little package for an NFL expansion team including the promise that visiting teams would get $1 million per game.

But some people in Baltimore based their hopes on getting a team on the fact that Bob Irsay took our team away (sob) and so we deserve one (boo-hoo) and if we don't get one God will probably send down another flood.

And now they are devastated.

You would think Baltimore had nothing else to be proud of.

You would think that we didn't already have a major league baseball team with one of the finest stadiums in America.

You would think we didn't have the Inner Harbor or the National Aquarium or some fine neighborhoods or the reputation as a pretty progressive city that is serious about addressing urban ills.

But for the last few days we have set about replacing that reputation with a new one:

We are The City That Whines.

Let me tell you two things I can't prove but I believe to be true:

1. Most people really do not care if we get a football team or not. They are much more concerned about trivial matters like whether they will have a job next year.

2. They do not judge our worth as a city nor their worth as human beings by how many pro sports teams Baltimore has.

The NFL did not make us losers. We are doing that to ourselves.

And we are doing it by tearing down Jacksonville to make ourselves stand taller.

Those who are generous enough not to bash Jacksonville seem ready, on the other hand, to open a vein over this loss.

William Donald Schaefer seems the most devastated. Here is a guy with a long, distinguished career. Say what you will about his current popularity, his service to Baltimore and Maryland has improved the lives of millions.

But now he's going to consider himself a failure in life because he doesn't get a football team?

C'mon, Don. Head up. Shoulders back. Walk it off, babes.

And here are a few words for Boogie Weinglass:

You know what happens to people who get more and more money but also get more and more bitter?

They turn into Tom Clancy.

Don't let this happen to you.

On Tuesday, Channel 2 did one of those unscientific phone polls asking people if Baltimore should now go after an existing football team or just forget about it.

Twenty-seven percent said get another team and 63 percent said forget about it.

I believe that reflects not only a certain level of exhaustion, but also the feeling that the media have made way much too much over all this.

And if people are really looking for things to gnash their teeth and tear their hair over, they might want to look at the state of public education and public safety around here.

Baltimore can remain a viable, charming, successful city without a football team.

It cannot remain that way without an educated citizenry and safe streets.

We get a football team; we don't get a team. Hey, we'll live.

Besides, the glass isn't half empty, Baltimore, it's half full.

We've got a professional baseball team and Jacksonville is getting a professional football team.

And there is just one word we should have for the people down there:

Congratulations.

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