Ravens withdrawal not so super

Fans: The first Sunday without their heroes brings sad emptiness, but car flags still fly.

February 05, 2001|By Tim Craig | Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

So now what do you do?

One week after the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV, Baltimore fans were in withdrawal yesterday as they entered a long layoff from football.

Yesterday was the first Sunday in 21 weeks -- excluding two weeks ago, on the weekend between the playoffs and the Super Bowl -- that Baltimore fans were left without bone-crunching, trash-talking games between two National Football League teams.

And, with the high from the Ravens' victory starting to wear off, it was a day that gave another meaning to the phrase "Purple Pain."

Patrons' faces said it all yesterday at Looney's pub in Canton, where even the televised NFL Pro Bowl did little to quell the sudden realization that the Ravens do not play again for six months.

"Football season makes this place," said Ken Miller, a Looney's bartender. "I think everybody is still all hyped and definitely having withdrawal symptoms."

What are the symptoms of football withdrawal?At Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3065 in Hampden, withdrawal means men such as Rick Denis having to watch professional bowling.

"It's a big letdown," Denis said.

"I guess it's bowling until golf comes on," he said with a laugh.

At the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house near the Johns Hopkins University, withdrawal meant students slept in and then went to the gym instead of plopping on the nearest couch to watch television.

"It is kind of depressing," said Matt Sullivan, 20, of Herndon, Va. "I guess it is going to be different now instead of each Sunday just watching football and drinking beer."

But at the Crab Cake Factory in Annapolis, members of Ravens Roost 51 found a way to cure their unrelenting football fervor.

"We are having a Super Bowl victory party," said Shelly Morgan, the manager. "We are going to replay the Super Bowl on tape."

Many fans across the region said yesterday they have no plans to remove their Ravens car flags or stop wearing Super Bowl XXXV championship clothing.

Amanda Smith of Hampden, said she will keep the homemade Ravens banner hanging on her two-story rowhouse.

"We need to see `thank you' for all they accomplished all season," Smith said. "They proved to the whole nation [that] we're good."

Earl Burke and his wife, Leona, also of Hampden, can't decide when they will remove the Ravens' flag from their car.

Earl Burke, 60, said he wants to retire it in a month. But when he makes the suggestion, his wife interjects, "No, not for another year."

Politicians in the region also have different views on how long the Ravens hoopla should last.

Tony White, a spokesman for Mayor Martin O'Malley, said city workers this week will begin removing the purple lights that have illuminated City Hall, the Washington Monument and Memorial Stadium for the past month. "It is time to get back to governing," White said.

But Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger said the purple lights on the county courthouse -- which is about as purple as a white building can get -- will remain indefinitely.

"I want to keep this momentum going as long as I can," he said.

Ruppersberger also said people can continue calling Owings Mills Boulevard, where the Ravens' training center is located, "Ravens Boulevard."

After all, Ruppersberger and the fans say, the Ravens are the world champions until another NFL team wins the Super Bowl a year from now -- at the earliest.

"They should definitely keep [the buildings] lit," said Greg Lohr, 30, of Owings Mills. "You never know if this is going to happen again."

Not knowing if the Ravens will return to the Super Bowl, dozens of fans flocked yesterday to Casey Wright's NFL merchandise stand outside the American Can Company in Canton.

Wright is selling his merchandise at 50 percent off until next Sunday, when he will close after selling thousands of pieces of clothing in the past three weeks. "People are not ready to stop showing their pride in the Ravens yet," said Sharon Wartman, 35, of the 1300 block of Union Ave., who was buying merchandise at Wright's stand.

Several people stopped by Wright's stand to buy Ravens car flags -- assuring that some out-of-town motorists will continue to mistake traffic on the Beltway for a stalled funeral procession.

Judy Cavey, 42, of Hampden said she plans to keep her two flags on her car until the end of the month to "make way for Orioles season."

Some signs of Ravens euphoria are already starting to fade.

The homemade signs that had been hung by workers in the windows of the World Trade Center at the Inner Harbor have been dwindling all week.

Other signs -- such as a large Ravens banner on a building at Calvert and Lombard streets downtown -- are also starting to fall down.

And the black and purple balloons and streamers that had been hung on porches across the region are now weathered.

"It's got to give up sometime," said Larry Procknow, who was selling Ravens merchandise at a stand on Route 40 in Catonsville.

But some things are not so easy to change.

The 100-foot-wide Spot Nightclub in the 2300 block of Boston St. in Canton has been painted purple with "Go Ravens Super Bowl XXXV Champs" in large white lettering for the last three weeks.

"I am not sure how long we are going to leave it up," said part-owner Paul Chrzanowski. "We may just eventually have to leave the [purple] color and paint over `Go Ravens.' "

Wyett Harris, 57, of Charles Village said business owners have nothing to fear by continuing their passion for purple.

"We are not going to lose again," Harris said, while sitting in the Hampden VFW hall. "I refuse to give it up."

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