End of name search stands as act of mercy

March 30, 1996|By JOHN EISENBERG

Baltimore Ravens is good.

Whether they are good is another matter, of course. You wanted an expansion team? You got one. New nickname. New identity. Unknowns at most positions. You're dreaming if you think there's a difference between the Ravens, Jaguars and Panthers.

But Baltimore Ravens -- the new nickname, unveiled yesterday at last -- is good.

Why? Well, for starters, it's a nickname. As opposed to another debate about the nickname.

After four years, two newspaper phone-in polls and hundreds of talk-show hours spent on the subject, any name would have sufficed as long as it signaled the end of the NFL name game.

I would have cheered the unveiling of the Baltimore Mad Cow Disease Carriers yesterday as long as it meant that the issue finally was being blindfolded and put in front of a firing squad.

As enriching as the discourse was over the years, the time had come for us to move on to more important subjects, such as whether Brady Anderson is growing out his sideburns.

Of course, the team pretty much had to announce a nickname yesterday. David Modell had promised. He couldn't go back on his word.

The announcement came at a noon ceremony at the Inner Harbor, shrouded in clouds and a chilling mist. Perfect weather for a football game. Let's say it together: "Ravens weather, dude!"

The selection was not exactly a stunner along the lines of "Braveheart" for Best Picture. The Sun handled the final, all-important, do-or-die, supposedly 100 percent binding phone

poll, but only after publishing a front-page story earlier in the week explaining that Ravens was the choice of every imaginable focus group and that the team's front office's "prevailing assumption" was that Ravens would win. This is known as massaging the news.

The chances of a name other than Ravens winning the poll yesterday were about as good as the chances of the Ravens winning the Super Bowl next year.

The only surprise in the whole endeavor was that the phone call didn't cost 75 cents.

Me, I was pulling for Rhinos right to the end. It's the perfect football nickname: big, mean, fast, stubborn.

We could have named the new stadium the Rhino Cage at Camden Yards.

Alas, Rhinos was not among the finalists.

But Ravens is good.

It's a name I supported in this space when the last Sun poll was taken some three years ago. I had my reasons. A menacing, black bird is a nice symbol for football. The reference to Edgar Allan Poe's poem is a nice touch in a city that bills itself as "The City That Reads." And then closes libraries.

The poem gives the crowd a great cheer with which to exhort the defense:

"Nevermore! Nevermore!"

Ravens is better than Marauders (too vague.) Better than Bombers (too violent). Better than Steamers (crabs? ships?). Better than Americans (please!).

Better than Mustangs, Stallions or any other Colt derivative? Absolutely.

Sure, in a perfect world, we would have gotten the Colts name back from Indianapolis. That's the name this city really wanted, the name that would have fully righted the wrong engendered a dozen years ago.

Alas, the world isn't perfect. The Irsays live in it.

Having said that, it's fine that we're going without Colts references as we wade back into the NFL's waters. That was then, this is now.

We're talking about a new team in a new stadium in a new century.

Time to look forward, not backward.

Anyway, it's not as if the Colts legacy will just die in a city with such a long memory. The legacy is too ingrained.

To ensure that we maintain a link to the past, how about not changing the name of the Baltimore Colts' Band? It can play at Ravens games just as it did at Colts games, only with the name of the old team on the drums. The name that made the band an institution.

Sounds cool to me. Just a thought.

There are several other ancillary issues to settle, too.

The colors? Bet on black and purple.

The logo? Mean. (Perhaps a picture of a bird picking someone's pocket.)

The mascot? Tough one there. It's hard to have a warm, fuzzy scavenger. Or a cuddly poet.

A new name for the Colt Corrals?

"Raven Corrals doesn't sound too good, does it?" Corrals council president Jim Phillips lamented yesterday. "We need to come up with something."

Ravens' Nests? Bird Cages?

A name for a cheering section to rival Cleveland's Dawg Pound? The Raven Lunatics? The Po' Boys? The Raven Haven? The Flock?

Ah, well. These things will take care of themselves. At least, and at last, the name game itself is over.

To the bitter end, there were desperate folks calling the Sun sports offices yesterday morning, breathlessly offering last-minute suggestions and demanding that they be taken to Art Modell.

Time to give it up, people.

We're a Ravens kind of town. And that is fine. And now we've got a stadium to name.

Pub Date: 3/30/96

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