RAVENS FEVER reaches new heights today with a grand welcome-home parade for the Super Bowl champions. Football players, coaches and owners deserve applause. So do residents of this region who have seen a football team, and a city, resurrected.
Owner Art Modell knows what this proud moment means to folks here. That's why he accepted the trophy Sunday night on behalf of the citizens of the city, Baltimore County and Maryland.
Now, perhaps, we can close the book on the bitterness and inferiority flowing from that bleak night 17 years ago when the Colts team was hustled out of down. Years of frustration followed as powerful forces, led by Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, maneuvered to deny Baltimore readmission to the National Football League.
Sunday's triumph reaffirmed the decision by William Donald Schaefer, and later Parris N. Glendening, to build a downtown sports complex. Governor Glendening's stadium proposal convinced Mr. Modell to shift from a hostile Cleveland to a grateful Baltimore.
Now Ravens flags wave from cars and vans all over the region. Bankers and steelworkers share a common passion for purple.
The Ravens won with a stunning display of teamwork and selfless dedication to getting results. We can all identify with that. It should serve as an inspiration as this community tries to overcome its prejudices and divisions, its deep-seated suspicions and doubts about those who police this city and those who govern.
The chemistry of this Ravens team is the same kind of chemistry needed to complete Baltimore's comeback. It will take motivational leaders -- similar to Coach Brian Billick, receiver Shannon Sharpe and linebacker Ray Lewis. And it will take unwavering commitment from each of us.
Baltimore is best, hon. Eight hundred million viewers around the globe can attest to that. Not bad for a defensive-minded football team pieced together in just five years. We've earned the right to gloat about our Ravens. And about ourselves.