Mr. Principle buys season tickets for the Ravens

July 15, 1996|By MIKE LITTWIN

ONCE, AND THIS may surprise you, I was a person of great principle.

I stood on principle. No principle was too high, too lofty.

In fact, I used to keep a step-ladder with me, just in case I ran into a particularly lofty principle I felt required to stand on. That's how principled I was.

I know others of principle.

They won't eat meat on principle.

They won't buy sweatshop-produced clothes on principle.

They recycle 1992 Perot bumper stickers -- on principle.

And me? I have purchased Ravens' season tickets. There, I've said it. It's out in the open. Mr. Principle plunked down money to see the team we stole from Cleveland, where the good citizens, against all reason, actually loved the Browns, or otherwise how do you explain that most of the fans would dress up as dogs when going to the games.

The same person who has written -- from on high -- how the good folks in Baltimore must empathize with Cleveland.

And the same one who has proclaimed how unseemly it would be to rush out, right away, while the body's still warm, and plunk down our money.

Shouldn't this person feel guilty, at least for a while?

Guilty?

Yeah, I'm guilty. The tickets just came in the mail, and, as if to punish me, they're deep into the end zone, up in the nosebleed section. No tissues included.

And now I can't look at myself in the mirror. (Actually, from those seats, I can't look at anything except through a pair of binoculars.)

What kind of man am I? Here's what kind: the kind who called the Ravens hot line for 14 hours hoping to get slightly better seats, maybe somewhere in the actual city limits.

And what about principle, you ask. Here are just a few of the principles I violated.

There's the football-is -a - stupid - game - in - which - large - men - on - steroid - rages - crash - into - each - other principle. Or, put another way, when was the last time you congratulated somebody by butting his head?

And the if-it's-not-the-Colts-it's-not-really-Baltimore-football principle. Let's wait for the "Diner" sequel when the wedding scene is in purple, black and gold.

I had vowed, as many of you had vowed, that I would never spend my money (I was going to say hard-earned money, but you know the job I've got) on a personal seat license, in which I have to spend hundreds of dollars for the privilege of buying a seat next to someone with Ravens spelled out on his chest and who will probably spill beer on me.

Imagine other businesses trying to pull this PSL business. Say I charged a personal newspaper license. You give me a hundred bucks, then and only then will I sell you a paper for 50 cents.

Fair?

Yeah, like life is fair.

OK, life isn't fair, and Art Modell, who owns the Ravens, is making a fortune in a sweetheart deal for a publicly funded, skybox-laden, brand-spanking-new stadium and still has the nerve to raise millions with PSLs to cover what he calls his moving expenses.

Hey, Artie, I moved a couple of years back and where were you to help me?

So, why buy the tickets?

You know, I'm not even a big football fan. I much prefer basketball and baseball.

For years, I did without the game. As a sportswriter for many of those years, I got my fill going to see the Redskins occasionally, and rooting against them always.

I bought tickets because, well, what else can you do on a fall Sunday besides eat bad food at high prices?

I bought tickets because I thought it would be cool to say, "Going to the game. And you're not."

I bought tickets because I wanted to spell out Vinny Testaverde JTC on my chest.

Actually, I think the reason I had to buy tickets was to come to terms with the fact that there really is a football team here, and not one of those Canadian Football League teams, which should, technically, be from Canada.

For years, I was convinced that Baltimore would never get a team. And I was equally convinced it was patently unfair.

So, when you come down to it, I bought tickets out of spite. I bought tickets to thumb my nose at the NFL people who said Baltimore didn't need a team.

No, I don't feel good about it.

L Yes, it means I can no longer say I'm standing on principle.

Actually, I wouldn't mind so much where I stood on this issue if, during the games, I was sitting somewhere between the 20s.

Pub Date: 7/15/96

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