The silver shine of the Vince Lombardi Trophy was dimmed yesterday by the fingerprints of hundreds of Ravens fans whose purple passion was rewarded with a touch of football history.
They'll polish it for today's parade.
A day after the team's dominating win in Super Bowl XXXV and a day before the official civic celebration in downtown Baltimore, Ravens President and Chief Executive David Modell treated a small but loyal crowd to a close-up of the prize awarded to National Football League champions.
"It is the people's trophy," Modell said. "No question. It's Baltimore's."
Moments after five team buses and their police escorts rolled past the gates of the Owings Mills training facility, Modell and head coach Brian Billick walked up the driveway, carrying the glimmering hardware that millions had seen on television the night before.
Crossing the street, they followed the yellow police tape that lined Owings Mills Boulevard as about 300 fans cheered and reached for the trophy.
"I had my hand right on the seam," said Ed Smith, 36, a former police officer from Westminster. "It blew me away. I had a lump in my throat."
Alex Golob, 18, a University of Maryland, College Park freshman from Owings Mills, said words escaped him as he grasped Billick's hand: "`I love you' - that's all I could say."
Modell said he hadn't planned the hands-on tour.
"It was a spur-of-the-moment thing," he said. "We came in and said, `Let's do it.'"
Fans were hoarse from shouting and bleary-eyed from lack of sleep yesterday after hours of full-throttle beer guzzling and screaming bloody purple at the television Sunday.
They stumbled to work and school talking about interceptions, blowouts and one of the greatest defenses ever. It was a fuzzy day of recovery and reflection across the region.
Call it a purple haze.
"Isn't everyone hung over today?" asked Monica Yungmann, 27, as she sat in Claddagh Pub in Canton at noon yesterday, wearing a purple sweatshirt.
Whatever the reason, the area's work force was a bit distracted. And today there will be another reason for thousands to stay out of the office: the Ravens Super Bowl Victory Parade will wind through downtown beginning at 10:30 a.m.
It starts at Howard and Pratt streets, proceeds east on Pratt, north on Gay, west on Fayette, finishing in front of City Hall at the War Memorial Plaza.
The Ravens Marching band will walk the route, and the players will ride in cars with owner Art Modell and Billick. Waiting at purple City Hall will be Mayor Martin O'Malley.
Parade, rain or shine
Streets near the route will be closed from 10 a.m. until noon. The parade will not be canceled for bad weather.
State workers have been granted liberal leave to attend. Fans who can't come can watch on television or listen on radio, as some stations plan to cover the action live.
At the mayor's office, phones were ringing yesterday with children asking whether they would have the day off from school.
"We're getting bombarded, mainly with questions from kids, asking if school's off tomorrow. It's not," said an amused Rick Binetti, a press aide to the mayor. "Some kids are even saying they heard on the radio that they get school off. Oldest trick in the book."
Carmen V. Russo, chief executive officer of the Baltimore schools, said children who come to school after the parade will be marked late, just as they would if they arrived late any other day
"It is business as usual," Russo said. "We are not changing any attendance policy for the parade, as happy as we are that they won. Children belong in school."
But not all parents agree.
Baltimore resident Nathaniel Wallace let his kids stay home from school yesterday so they could celebrate the big victory.
Wallace, who was at Mondawmin Mall in the morning, wearing a Ray Lewis jersey and purple Ravens headband, said he, too, wanted to stay home.
"This should be a holiday," he said. "I told my kids to stay home from school and everything."
Party at a boil
Ray Schneider, 48, who lives in Linthicum, asked for the day off from work last week because he knew he was throwing a Super Bowl bash at his house. About 75 rowdy people showed up.
"It was like watching something boiling. It just got better and better," said Schneider, a computer analyst. "It was screaming and mayhem and hugs. You had to make your way around the party to high-five everyone there."
For Schneider and many others, it's difficult to get back into work mode when the whole city has been partying for days.
There was evidence of Baltimore's sluggishness at area coffee shops, where red-eyed Ravens fans stopped in throughout the day to get their caffeine fix.
"People needed larger coffees today," said barista Christina Andersen, 23, who was working at One World Cafe in Federal Hill. "They were definitely extra tired."
She said One World had an 11:30 a.m. brunch rush that made it seem like a weekend morning.
"We don't usually have that on Mondays," she said.
Out of practice
One customer was Scott Alder, who said he went to work, despite his hangover.