CUMBERLAND - In 1969, Neil Armstrong planted a red, white and blue flag on the moon, and it was clear who had claimed squatting rights.
But there is no single NFL flag stuck in Maryland soil, no team that can claim to dominate the state when it comes to fan loyalty. Rather, there are entrenched bases of support for the Ravens and Washington Redskins, and small but enthusiastic outposts of Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles followers.
The story of how those teams' fans get along - or don't - is filled with odd couplings, old rivalries and occasional bitterness.
From Ocean City to Oakland (not the home of the Raiders, but rather the Garrett County seat), much of the venom seems to be directed at the Redskins.
Here in Western Maryland, residents are still angry with the Redskins for yanking their training camp out of Frostburg State University. In Baltimore, Ravens fans blame Washington's ownership for conspiring to keep the city without a team from 1984 until 1996. Near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, Eagles fans can't abide the Redskins because of the intensity of the teams' NFC East rivalry.
The NFL's final regular-season weekend will bring together two of the teams that Marylanders root for, when the Ravens play the Steelers in Pittsburgh tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Redskins take on the Dallas Cowboys at home tomorrow. Today, the Eagles meet the New York Giants at the Meadowlands.
For fans living where the NFL markets collide, the games pose the usual dilemma - or family squabble - over who controls the TV remote.
"I root for the Eagles and the Ravens, if you can believe that," says Paul Urbaniak of Fair Hill, a Cecil County community that is closer to Philadelphia than Baltimore.
"Never liked the Redskins," he says.
'Skins' hate widespread
Mike Cullison, a liquor store manager in Edgewood, in Harford County, shares Urbaniak's animosity toward the Redskins.
"Up here you have Eagles fans who are anti-Redskin because they're in the same division, and you have Ravens fans who are anti-Redskin," Cullison says. "Some blame Washington for us not having a team for 13 years."
Many still blame the Redskins' organization for Baltimore's prolonged period without an NFL team after the Colts moved to Indianapolis in 1984. Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke opposed expansion, then sought to build the team's new stadium in Laurel, just 15 miles south of Baltimore.
Cooke eventually settled on a site in Prince George's County. Even though farther from Baltimore, its Maryland location rankles.
In the period when Baltimore was without NFL football, "there was no way we were going to Redskins games," said Cullison.
Though he lives about the same distance to Philadelphia as he does to Baltimore, Cullison is as zealous as most closer Ravens fans. A longtime Colts fan - "from the Bert Jones era," he says proudly - he converted to the Ravens in 1996. Cullison, 35, even attends some road games (he made it to Miami this year).
Cullison's area of Maryland is near both the Pennsylvania and Delaware lines. It is filled with people who watch Baltimore and Philadelphia television stations and can read local newspapers from three states. Far to the west, in Garrett and Allegany counties, fans live in a region with a similar split personality.
Seeing certain Pittsburgh games on a home television can be a problem in places like Cumberland, which is about the same distance (a 2 1/2 -hour drive) from Pittsburgh as from Baltimore. Steelers fan Susie Wilitson, 36, can't see all her team's games because the occasional Fox broadcast is not available on her local cable. Instead, the Redskins are.
Of course, fans of any NFL team can gather at a sports bar these days or buy their own signals to watch any team's games via satellite. That and the transient nature of the American population means that fans of any team, wearing no telling what jersey, turn up anywhere.
In Cumberland, Charter Communications, which is obliged by federal rules to carry certain stations, offers Washington's network affiliates. On its own, Charter says it also picks up a CBS affiliate from the Johnstown-Altoona area, and one from Baltimore.
Wilitson, a bartender, often sports her Antwaan Randle El "No. 82" Pittsburgh jersey even when surrounded by Ravens and Redskins paraphernalia at Brewski's pub, where she works. She says the tavern's beer distributors give the pub free items with the logo of the "local teams," but neglect the Steelers.
Although she usually works Monday nights, Wilitson says the bar's managers know better than to disturb her when the Steelers appear on Monday Night Football. She typically hunkers down next to one of the big screens and fends off the taunts of Ravens fans.