Our NFL ABCs It's so hard to remember what football -- real football -- looked like, sounded like, tasted like. Here are 26 easy lessons.

August 31, 1996|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,STAFF WRITER

The last time this town had an NFL football team, Teddy Roosevelt was president, the Model T Ford had just been introduced and weekly groceries for a family of four cost $6.

Well, maybe not. But when the Ravens take on the Oakland Raiders tomorrow at Memorial Stadium, it will be the first time in 12 years that a meaningful NFL game is played here, dating back to when the evil Robert Irsay packed up the Colts like so much Tupperware and shipped them off to Indianapolis.

To mark this momentous occasion, The Sun presents an A-to-Z Guide to Watching Ravens Football:

A is for Al Davis, the Raiders legendary owner. With that '50s, slicked-back pompadour, he still looks like the model for the Bob's Big Boy character.

B is for "Big Wheel," Len Burrier, former Colts cheerleader extraordinaire. The Wheel says he'll be at the stadium tomorrow. You can't miss him. He's 6-feet-5 and 290, and if he gets a few Buds in him, he might start contorting his body to form the letters R-A-V-E-N-S!

You try doing this at age 49 with half a load on.

C is for "Caw! Caw!" -- that piercing, obnoxious Ravens sound effect that played over the PA system during pre-season games and nearly drove 60,000 fans to check into Sheppard Pratt.

D is for dollars, which you will need lots of to attend Ravens games. Average ticket price: $40.53 per game. A family of four will pay $243.11 if it buys a few hot dogs, drinks and souvenirs. Time for Dad to take that second job on the loading dock.

E is for Edgar Allan Poe. What a story: brilliant 19th-century poet with massive gambling/drinking problems dies after being found semi-conscious outside a Baltimore tavern. One hundred forty-seven years later, they name a football team after one of his poems.

Only in America.

F is for front office. Memo to Ravens management: If that "Caw!" tape should somehow end up in a Dumpster, not too many people will be dabbing their eyes with hankies. If you catch our drift.

G is for grills, officially banned from the stadium parking lot. Hey, a tailgate party without a grill is like a mob rub out without the piano wire.

H is for hatred, pure and unbridled, which is what much of pro football feels toward the Ravens. "I despise the whole concept of the Baltimore Ravens," NBC announcer Bob Trumpy says in the current issue of Inside Sports.

Bob, Bob, Bob ... it's not healthy to keep this stuff bottled up inside.

I is for Irsay. A marvelous human being. No, really.

J is for Juneau, Alaska, which is what the upper deck seats in the open end of the stadium configuration will feel like come December.

K is for Kroner, as in the infamous Donald Kroner, who crashed his plane in the upper deck of Memorial Stadium after the Steelers crushed the Colts in 1976. Thankfully, this is not a post-game tradition that took hold.

L is for logo. The Ravens' logo inexplicably looks like a flying letter B and is apparently derived from a 1970s episode of "The Munsters."

M is for MTA buses. Let's hope the MTA does a better job with the park-and-ride situation than it did for the pre-season games, when the buses were hot, crowded and late, and put you in mind of a commute in Calcutta. The only thing missing were chickens in the aisles.

By the way, Donald Kroner was a fired MTA bus driver.

N is for nostalgia. Some 50 former Colts, among them John Unitas and Art Donovan, will be introduced tomorrow. Close your eyes and it might almost seem like 1958. Until you open 'em again and get a load of the prices at the concession stands.

O is for Oakland, as in Raiders, who find themselves in greater disarray than the Clinton re-election team. They ended last season with six losses. The fans are apathetic, the quarterback's hurt and the defensive coordinator up and quit two weeks ago. Don't worry, be happy.

P is for pinata, which is what Browns football fans would like to use Ravens owner Art Modell for.

Q is for questions. Here's one: Wonder how they'll celebrate the football season opener in Cleveland? You can't even go down to Lake Erie and set it on fire anymore -- with all those namby-pamby environmentalists at work, it's too clean.

R is for rowdy. The Birdcage section of the stadium is already filling up with all manner of lunatics, some with painted faces, some with bird masks, etc. Now we need the obligatory six shirtless drunks lined up with R-A-V-E-N-S spray-painted in black across their guts.

In December. When the wind-chill factor is 10 degrees.

S is for season ticket holders, still grumbling about paying for a PSL (personal seat license) on top of those steep ticket prices. Usually when someone takes this kind of money from you, he's wearing a ski mask and waving a gun.

T is for Tagliabue, as in NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, persona non grata in this town. The commissioner will not attend tomorrow's game. He'll reportedly spend the day at home, tearing the wings from live butterflies.

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