Ravens arrive Poe's haunting bird gets two-thirds of vote in Sun's phone-in poll

'A strong nickname'

Hundreds turn out in rain, cold to hear the announcement

March 30, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Gary Lambrecht contributed to this article.

Twelve years to the day after the Colts moved out of Baltimore, the city named its new NFL team on a dismal, chilly afternoon after a ghostly bird immortalized by a writer of haunting stories and poems.

Despite the weather, nearly a thousand fans stood under umbrellas at the Inner Harbor yesterday to hear owner Art Modell announce the team will be called the Ravens.

"I could see it becoming kind of a Baltimore thing now," said Jeff DeLuca, of Lutherville. "Baltimore is always doing weird things. The dark side of the raven image will help bring out the weird side."

Ravens easily outdistanced Americans and Marauders in The Sun's phone-in poll that fans used to choose the team's name. Of the 33,288 voters, 21,108 picked Ravens, 5,597 chose Americans and 5,583 selected Marauders.

David Modell, head of marketing for the Baltimore team, said it will take up to two months to choose team colors and design a logo, but black has to be in the scheme, as befits a team named after Edgar Allan Poe's poem, "The Raven."

"It gives us a strong nickname that is not common to teams at any level, and it gives us one that means something historically to this community," said Art Modell. "This is a new beginning and a new era for us, and it will be for you, too. Our job now is to reward you with a winning team, and we're going to."

Those words rallied a crowd that had come to celebrate. It was a Who's Who among politicians: Gov. Parris N. Glendening. Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. Baltimore County executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III. Maryland comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, and Greater Baltimore Committee president Donald P. Hutchinson, former Baltimore County executive.

Former Baltimore Colts players Tom Matte, Bruce Laird, Toni Linhart and Stan White were in attendance.

Members of the old Colts Corrals, some dressed in those familiar blue corduroy jackets, were out in force. Jim Phillips, president of the council of Colt Corrals, held up a sign that read: "Thanks Art, For Giving Baltimore The Ball."

"This is fabulous, like it's sunny and 85 degrees outside," said Mr. Laird, a former safety with the old Colts. "I swear, I didn't think this was ever going to happen. And if it did, it was going to be a long, long, long time."

Maybe that why Ravens management brought in a 15-foot-tall football, hired Milford Mill Academy's marching band and shot off several sparklers and a cannon-load of confetti once the name was announced.

The end of a 12-year wait warranted euphoria.

"I've lived here all my life. I remember when the Colts left, and I knew the void that we had, and I'm so happy we're getting a team back," said James Gough, director of the Milford Mill Academy Band.

Modell and other team officials arrived at the Inner Harbor in a street car. truck delivered the sealed envelope containing the results.

Drum roll, please.

The envelope was passed from quarterback Vinny Testaverde to receiver Michael Jackson to defensive end Rob Burnett to Art Modell.

"And the winner is, Best Picture of the Year, Braveheart!", Art Modell said. "I had to get that one in."

The whole affair lasted about 20 minutes, but the name will be debated until the first game is played. Shortly after the announcement, a female fan made her way to the stage and showed a Baltimore official her sketch.

"Baltimore Gems, that should have been the name," she said.

"The name is just fine," said Mr. Burnett. "It's real easy to say. I'm a little familiar with Edgar Allan Poe. It's kind of eerie to compare it to that, but whatever works, whatever the people like. I'm about to go read up on him. 'Pit and the Pendulum,' all of that stuff."

A few months ago, Mr. Testaverde told reporters that the team's new name would be Mustangs. Yesterday, he found out the Baltimore crowd can be tough.

"Hey Vinny, Mustangs. Good call already," yelled some fans.

Pub Date: 3/30/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.