It's personal about those Ravens

January 25, 2001|By Sandy Kelman

MY FAMILY and I moved to Baltimore not long before that infamous night when the Colts stole out of town. So I never understood what I used to consider the fanaticism of many of the Colts' fans lamenting the loss of their team. In fact, after many years had gone by and the fans were still in mourning, I'd reached an "oh-just-get-over-it-will-you" attitude.

The events of this year's football season have turned me around. At last, I understand what all the hoopla's been about.

I've been a Ravens fan since they arrived; after all, they are the hometown team. A year or two ago, I bought an inexpensive Ravens shirt to wear to show my support for the team. There's just one problem; I'm starting to get superstitious about that fading purple shirt. I've worn it for every consecutive game the Ravens have won. I made sure I washed it late the night before the Ravens-Raiders game so I could wear it that Sunday. The thought actually crossed my mind that if I didn't wash it until morning and I waited to wear it, I might actually jinx the outcome of the game.

But nothing jinxed that game.

So I wore my shirt to the supermarket that morning. While shopping, I understood why fans were furious when the Colts left. Off in the distance, I heard someone call out, "Give me an R, give me an A, give me a V, give me an E, give me an N, give me an S. Now, what does that spell?"

I impishly glanced at the clerk next to me and, along with many others, yelled, "RAVENS!"

It may have taken me years to truly understand what football means to those who live in the Baltimore area, but I was the first to ask our school principal if we could all wear purple and black on the Friday before the playoff game. She wasn't sure she wanted to "jinx" the game. When others presented the case for a change of uniform and Baltimore declared a Black and Purple Day for that Friday, she surrendered to majority rule.

Not only did I wear my shirt to school, I also played my tape with Ravens songs performed by a well-known group connected to a local radio station.

Since that Friday also marked the end of midterm week, I treated the students to cupcakes decorated with black and purple frosting.

What made me understand the value of football fervor hasn't been something as tangible as wishing I'd bought those Ravens bumper stickers when I had the chance. It's been waking up recalling Ravens players outstanding plays and the way they support each other as a team. It's been recalling that little dance Ray Lewis does and picturing that touchdown Jamal Lewis got by simply flying over other players who were trying to stop him. It's been the turnarounds, the fantastic runs down the field to score touchdowns, the way Matt Stover confidently kicks the field goals.

Even more than the joy I've felt at victory over victory is how this year's team is helping me cope with a difficult time of year. The Ravens making it to the Super Bowl have given me something positive to replace the grief I experience as Super Bowl Sunday nears.

Instead of mourning the anniversary of the day my brother committed suicide, I now have something to look forward to on Sunday. Last year, when his friends and family gathered after his funeral, we all agreed to raise a toast in his honor every year during the Super Bowl game.

So when you cheer the Ravens to victory, give a toast in memory of my brother, Sam. And, while you're at it, say a prayer of thanksgiving for all those Colts fans who brought football back to Baltimore.

Sandy Kelman is a free-lance writer who lives in Pikesville, where she's become a Ravens maniac.

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