The Cravin If only Edgar Allan Poe had been here to witness our NFL agonies. What dark visions he might have written.

April 04, 1996|By Arthur Hirsch

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and bleary

Over many a quaint and curious volume of old Colts lore --

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my rowhouse door --

" 'Tis some expansion team," I muttered, "Tapping at my rowhouse door --

Come to dangle football dreams in poor old Baltimore."

Vaguely now do I remember it was May perhaps December;

And each whispered football rumor lay piled in ashes on the floor.

Here the Rams and there the Bengals, how we worked on all the angles

Seeking some surcease of sorrow -- sorrow for our Colts of Baltimore.

For the splendid champs who played for years in Baltimore

Gone from here for evermore.

Every swig, slurp and swallow taken from my can of Natty Bo

Thrilled me -- filled me with memories of Johnny, Art and so much more

So to quell nostalgic ardor I said aloud "We'll be no martyrs

"It's just another NFL owner who yanks the chain of Baltimore

"Shaking down his hometown pols and using Baltimore

This it is and nothing more."

Seasons passed ever-turning, Willie Don's wrath within him burning,

Soon enough there came a rapping louder than before.

Hopeful noises in Chicago promise cracks in NFL's embargo

"Surely now, as Belgrad said, the ball is passed to Baltimore

"Surely Willie Don will get news to thrill us to the core --

" 'Tis Jacksonville and nothing more!"

Thus I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

Of the foul and dismal news in the paper over which I pore.

How, O how could it be: Jacksonville, not Baltimore?

User.Event 7 was not expected here!

Then again there came a rapping, as in Morse code someone tapping

A bulletin too grim to utter: "Jacksonville, not Baltimore."

Merely this and nothing more.

Presently I drained my brew, resolving there no more to stew,

"Hey," said I, "No faking really, I implore

"Here I sit my hope a-sapping, and you come a-tapping

"Once again you're rapping, rapping at my rowhouse door

"You are cruel to come once more" -- here I opened wide the door

-- Just Jim Speros, nothing more.

Deep into his Grey Cup peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Figuring this was it, the works, the best we'd ever bargain for.

The CFLs had come to stay, never thought I'd see the day,

We'd play 12 on a side and cheer like mad: "Go Stallions of Baltimore"

This I muttered and an echo returned, "Go Stallions of Baltimore!"

Could this be it, nothing more?

Conjured now in the open portal, looming there a vision immortal

Impeccable in dark blue suit and wingtips on the floor;

The Commish aglow as from a klieg, recently having enlarged his league

Stands still and stiff as a goal post on a chill Chicago morn;

"Tell me, Maven, when can we see the NFL in Baltimore?"

Quoth the Maven "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! -- prophet still, if Commish or devil! --

Sent ye were by Jack Kent Cooke to stymie us by hook or crook.

Desolate yet all undaunted, in Charm City we're ever taunted

By Bob Irsay ever haunted -- tell me truly and for sure

Is there balm in your boardrooms? -- tell me, man, do not ignore

Quoth the Maven "Nevermore."

Then, at once, the sky was lighted, as with hope at last ignited

And fluttering angels plumed orange and brown did soar

"Modell," I cried, "our bucks we'll send thee -- by FedEx we'll gladly send thee

"For Respite and Relief in grieving Baltimore

"Stadium, yes, we've done it before, and a rental break's in store."

Quoth Modell "More more more."

By those words our command is spoken, but may we also tithe a token

Of remorse and sorrow for the fans of Cleveland's shore?

We feel their pain in this dark hour, remember still those vans Mayflower

Stealing in the frigid night our Colts of Baltimore.

When will the Cleveland faithful see how our hearts are sore?

Quoth Modell "Nevermore."

And the Deal, ever-flitting, now is signed, done and sitting

On the desk of Guv Glendening, who hails not from Baltimore;

Now name we must this new team, but how at last to name a dream?

Something historic, perhaps equestrian -- Colts, they say is out of the question

The talk shows buzz with names, names galore

"Take a poll" says Modell, nothing more

'Twas in the rain at the Inner Harbor when as from some medieval arbor,

Out there stepped a stately bird of Poe's drunken days of yore.

Not the least apology made it, some may love and others hate it

A mascot of such grim allure, an ebony and purple carnivore.

"Say what desperate city would enshrine a bird who dines on gore?"

Quoth the Raven "Baltimore." -- By Arthur Hirsch with apologies to Mr. Poe

Pub Date: 4/04/96

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