Ravens fans are prepared to party

For those who can't make it to Nashville, bars, homes will do

January 07, 2001|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

When the raven sitting on Edgar Allan Poe's chamber door uttered the haunting refrain, "Nevermore," he clearly had not come to Baltimore when the city had a winning football team.

Now, the bird's words might well be "More! More! More!"

Area football fans' unbridled enthusiasm for their new team continued yesterday as fans plunked down hundreds of dollars to fly to Nashville to witness today's playoff game against the Tennessee Titans. Thousands of others prepared to watch the game on TV at home by ordering a slew of lunchmeat platters yesterday. And local sports pubs prepared to be so packed that locating an available bar stool could be as difficult as finding a fumbled football beneath a crush of 300-pound linemen.

"I was too young for the Colts and old enough for the Ravens," said Michael Snyder, a 35-year-old Catonsville mortgage broker, waiting to board a flight to Nashville at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

"We'll follow them wherever they go," said Joy Strouse, of Towson, who flew to Nashville yesterday with her husband and six friends to attend today's game.

What did she pack for the trip? All the purple clothes she owned, right down to the amethyst bauble hanging around her neck.

"I'm a football nut," said Strouse, 41, a children's clothing store manager.

All of Southwest Airlines' flights to Nashville yesterday morning were crammed with football fans.

"This whole line seemed like it was filled with purple," said Tonya Bethel, a customer service agent for the airline. "I've had people say they will pay just about anything to get" to Nashville.

An hour before a 1:30 p.m. flight, about 150 people were waiting to board. Only a half-dozen or so of those in line said they were not going to the game. And even that number might have shrunk later on.

"We're trying to talk her into going [to the game], but she won't go," said Jim Enzer, 40, of Towson, referring to a New York woman who was trying to return to college at Nashville's Vanderbilt University after the holiday break.

"I'm a Giants fan," the 19-year-old student confided.

Many of those flying to Nashville were part of a tour group organized by a local radio station. The trip included airfare, tickets and a pep rally at a Nashville bar owned by Ravens safety Corey Harris, a Vanderbilt graduate.

Back at home, fans were placing orders for three- and five-foot submarine sandwiches and loading up on party platters.

At the Giant supermarket in Bel Air, deli clerk Al Cawthorne said he put out twice the usual amount of fried chicken and salads, such as cole slaw and potato salad.

The lunch platter orders, which serve 20 to 25 people, were rolling in, he said.

"The young ladies back here are putting them out one after another," Cawthorne said. "They really are going strong here."

Jamie Reck, an employee at Glen Burnie's Wings to Go, which serves buckets of chicken wings, said she must check in for work today at 9 a.m., 1 1/2 hours earlier than usual. By the time she arrives, orders will be rolling in for 11 a.m. pick-ups.

"Tomorrow is going to be nuts," said Eric Reynolds, a bartender at Looney's in Canton. "We doubled up on everything. ... It's going to be wall-to-wall people. I expect the bar to be packed by noon," a half-hour before kickoff.

That's four hours too late for at least one customer at Mother's Federal Hill Grille, according to manager Joe Gold.

Gold, whose South Baltimore bar painted its parking lot purple in honor of the Ravens, said a man approached him yesterday and inquired as to what time he had to arrive to ensure a seat on the leather couches by the big-screen television upstairs.

"I said, `We open at 8 a.m.' "

"He said, `I'll be there at 8:01.' "

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