A chance to indulge in Ravens mania

January 17, 2001|By Gregory Kane

DARE I INDULGE in the rampant Ravens mania afflicting Baltimore? Yeah, I think I will. But let me get two points out of the way first.

First, now that everyone in Baltimore and most of Maryland is happy that the Ravens are going to the Super Bowl, can we get the state legislature to pony up some needed dollars to treat Drug City's estimated 60,000 addicts? Yes, Gov. Parris N. Glendening recently proposed allocating another $22 million. (John R. Leopold, state delegate from Anne Arundel County, says it's less than 5 percent of what the state spent on the stadium.) When Baltimore gets its share, we'll have the $25 million over three years Mayor Martin O'Malley asked the state to give us for drug treatment. The money will open up another 1,500 treatment slots, boosting the number to 8,500, hardly enough to fill the demand. More dollars are needed. Maybe we should build an inpatient drug treatment facility inside PSINet Stadium. Then we'd be sure to get the money.

Second, I want to make one thing clear: I'm still a Baltimore Stallions fan. I haven't forgotten Baltimore's Canadian Football League franchise, which wowed diehard football fans just before Art Modell moved the former Cleveland Browns here. Stallions fans loved the bigger CFL field, the three-down format and that horse's head logo on the team's helmets, which brings me to why I'm now jumping on the bird wagon and becoming a Ravens fan and indulging in just a tad of Ravens-mania.

1. The Ravens' first playoff victims were the Denver Broncos, whose helmets sport a horse's head logo that looks suspiciously like the one used by the Stallions. First, the National Football League dissed us by refusing us an expansion franchise, opting for ones in Charlotte and Jacksonville. When we got the CFL franchise, and owner Jim Speros tried to name it the Baltimore CFL Colts, NFL hit men went to court to deny him the right. Then, Denver stole our logo. Their burial by the Ravens was poetic justice.

2. Congratulations are in order for Modell and his son, David, the team's president. Both are good, decent folks, despite what some in Cleveland must be saying about them now, and they deserve going to the Super Bowl.

3. Are the Ravens a charmed team? It would seem so. Can you imagine them - with their 1-yard-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense - scoring a touchdown on third and 18? Tight end Shannon Sharpe went 96 yards for the score. It occurs to me that Sharpe does not have world-class speed. That the Raiders didn't catch him is a miracle. Spencer Miles Cherry, all of 2 years, 11 months and two weeks as of today, is the most irrepressible, active and quickest of my three grandchildren. He could have caught Sharpe. I'm trying to get my daughter to have my grandson suit up for the Raiders next year.

4. Ravens fans should hope history runs in cycles. Baltimore's first experience in an NFL championship game was in 1958. The Colts beat the New York Giants in sudden-death overtime, 23-17. The date was Dec. 28. The Colts had been in Baltimore five years.

The Ravens face the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28. The team has been in Baltimore five seasons. With any luck, there'll be one more parallel: the Ravens beating the Giants.

5. How do you think Jim Irsay, son of Weasel Bob Irsay, must be feeling now? Weasel Bob was the guy who sneaked the Colts out of Baltimore in 1984. Colts fans thought that was his greatest sin, but some were worse. Not once, but twice, Weasel Bob wrecked winning franchises and turned them into losing ones. He did it when he arrived in 1972. Through the efforts of general manager Joe Thomas, the Colts got enough talent to have contending teams again for the 1975, 1976 and 1977 seasons. Then Weasel Bob struck again, trading running back Lydell Mitchell and tight end Ray Chester - the hub of the Colts offense (no, it wasn't quarterback Bert Jones) - at the beginning of the 1978 season. After six seasons of futility, Weasel Bob bolted for Indianapolis, blaming Baltimore's fans for his team's sorry performance.

Jim, Son of Weasel, repeated the refrain. His father is dead now, but between Weasel and Son of Weasel, the Indianapolis Colts have had 17 straight tries to make a Super Bowl and have failed. The Modells succeeded in five seasons. Loyal Baltimore Colts fans knew when the Irsays left that our town would get an NFL franchise again and that we would be in the Super Bowl before Indianapolis. That hurts, doesn't it, Son of Weasel?

6. The Ravens are not an NFL franchise. It's an anti-NFL franchise. We're the franchise NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue didn't want. Nothing could be more pleasing than around 10 p.m. or so on Jan. 28 seeing Tagliabue hand the Vince Lombardi Trophy - presented to the winning Super Bowl team - to Art and Dave Modell and having to say, "Congratulations."

I hope he chokes on the word.

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