Ravens Fan has a long talk with a shrink

January 18, 2001|By Kevin Cowherd

THE RAVENS Fan needs to talk to someone. Despite the happy confluence of events that finds his team in the Super Bowl and Baltimore alive with excitement, there is something troubling him, a little voice inside that keeps whispering: "You need professional help."

OK, it's really his wife's voice, and she doesn't exactly whisper. No, she's been shouting this every Sunday for the past three weeks, the voice drifting down to the basement where he sits bathed in the blue-white glow of the 32-inch RCA, watching his team amid the faux wood paneling and the twin Bud Light signs and the ratty frat-house furniture.

So yesterday, he gets in his car and travels up Reisterstown Road to the Chartley Shopping Center and the office of James "Dr. Jim" Dasinger, the well-known clinical psychologist and radio personality.

The office is soothing - soft lighting, lush gray carpeting, black Corinthian leather loveseat flanked by two maroon wing chairs.

"Makes you wanna open up about your mother, doesn't it?" Dr. Jim laughs, and the Ravens Fan begins to relax immediately.

He relaxes even more when Dr. Jim agrees to waive his usual fee of $125 per hour.

"Actually, the initial diagnostic intake interview is $150," Dr. Jim points out pleasantly. Saving a bill and a half - this is a big deal for the Ravens Fan. He's been spending money like a drunken sailor lately: the jars and jars of purple face-paint, the No. 58 Peter Boulware jersey, the cases of beer and the snack trays from Super Fresh inhaled during Ravens playoff games.

"What brings you to see me?" Dr. Jim begins.

It comes out in a great rush of words. Look, the Ravens Fan says, I'm thrilled the Ravens are having such a wonderful season and going to the Super Bowl, and it's great to see the fans and the city all pumped up - man, I've never seen anything like it!

Dr. Jim nods. "You're experiencing the euphoria, the joy, the happiness, because you're getting something you've been waiting for a long time."

Right, says the Ravens Fan. Only - call me crazy, doc, heh, heh - but I'm feeling a little down too.

"Freud says `Depression is anger turned inward,'" offers Dr. Jim.

Maybe that's it, says the Ravens Fan. I don't know what's wrong with me, Dr. Jim. But as happy as I am, I wanna stick it to Tagliabue. You remember him, right? The NFL commissioner, Paul Tagliabue? The guy who blocked an expansion team for Baltimore after that horrible Irsay moved the Colts to Indianapolis like they were just some dusty old knick-knacks, instead of a vibrant part of the community? The guy who said this town should just build a new museum instead of worrying about a new football team?"

"Ahh, now we get to rejection," says Dr. Jim. "We were rejected over and over and over again for an expansion team when the Colts left. You're angry at Tagliabue because he put us down and he treated us like we weren't worthy of a team. He insulted us, he rejected us, he -"

Whoa, Dr. Jim, thinks the Ravens Fan. Sounds like you have a few issues to work out with the commish yourself.

"Did you feel his hostility?" Dr. Jim continues. "I sure as hell did."

Anyway, says the Ravens Fan, seems like all I want is to see the look on Tagliabue's face when the Ravens win and he has to hand the Super Bowl trophy to Art Modell, the owner of the Baltimore Ravens. I know that's a dopey reason to root for a Ravens win, but there it is.

"It's understandable," says Dr. Jim. "But your anger at him hurts you. You've made Tagliabue too important in your life. He's nothing more than a mere mortal. A mean-spirited mortal, maybe. An anti-Baltimore mortal, maybe. But nothing more than a mere mortal."

OK, but here's another thing, Dr. Jim, says the Ravens Fan. The rest of the country acts as if the Ravens in the Super Bowl is a fluke or something. Boy, this ticks me off! It's like no one has been watching this defense all season. Until we beat the Raiders in the AFC championship, the national media, and especially those guys on the TV pre-game shows, were like: How is Baltimore doing it?

Dr. Jim is quiet for a moment. The Ravens Fan hopes he hasn't riled him again.

Then Dr. Jim speaks, his voice calm: "I suppose these other people are quite jealous. I suppose they have feelings of inadequacy. The Rodney Dangerfield Syndrome - the whole I-don't-get-no-respect thing - is their problem, not ours. All we must do is delight in, or rejoice in, our victory in the Super Bowl.

"We want to discard Tagliabue, and those clowns on the pre-game shows, because they're really not worthy of our attention."

The Ravens Fan's time is almost up. He could sprawl here all day on the fine Corinthian leather loveseat. But Dr. Jim is a busy man, 27 years in the profession, and others, with other problems, are waiting to sprawl here, too.

And, anyway, by now the Ravens Fan is feeling a whole lot better.

"This might help, too," says Dr. Jim, rising. "Try to identify the Ravens' strengths and turn them into your strengths. The quickness of Ray Lewis. The strength of Tony Siragusa. The hands of Shannon Sharpe. The power of Jamal Lewis."

The Ravens Fan feels all of these now, to varying degrees.

But mostly he feel the lightness of beating a $150 diagnostic intake interview. That should carry him for a good long while.

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