Celebrating past, Ravens unveil patch

Newsome, Stover, others reflect on past nine years

April 12, 2005|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

With less than two weeks until the Ravens replenish for the future through the draft, team officials and supporters took yesterday afternoon to relish in past.

The Ravens announced plans for a season-long celebration of the past nine years in Baltimore, one that will include a patch the players will wear on their uniforms commemorating the 10th season and a list of the top 10 plays, players and moments in team history that will be unveiled during games (fans can submit nominations, then vote on the choices).

Former Ravens owner Art Modell, former Baltimore Colt Lenny Moore, general manager Ozzie Newsome, kicker Matt Stover and left tackle Jonathan Ogden - who was the team's first selection in 1996 - all reminisced about the team's historic move from Cleveland, the trials faced in the beginning and the Super Bowl run in 2000.

"It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since our first meeting here as a personnel staff and we started out as the Baltimore Ravens," Newsome said.

"As I think back over the 10 years, that's the way we've run this franchise; we've just put one foot in front of the other. We didn't have uniforms. That first year, we didn't have enough guys to have a practice squad, but we just kept putting one foot in front of the other to the point that we gained the respect of this community and we gained the respect of the NFL. It all came to glory with the Super Bowl in 2000."

Modell, who was responsible for the move from Cleveland and was vilified in that city, spoke from his home in Florida of how the Ravens have overcome the resistance from some in the community when they first arrived to a team that now has a waiting list for season tickets.

The Ravens played their first two seasons at Memorial Stadium before moving into what is now M&T Bank Stadium for the 1998 season and selling out every game.

"We didn't have unanimous support when we came in," Modell said. "Some of the old Colts fans and the old Colts players were resentful that we came in as the new kids on the block with a new name."

What helped smooth the transition was the support given by Moore, who was a Hall of Fame running back for the Colts. Moore viewed the Ravens' arrival as a chance for his old teammates to reconnect.

"They never forgot the old Baltimore Colts, and we were floundering," Moore said. "We had no home, and they took us in."

The Ravens won their inaugural game, 19-14, over the Oakland Raiders but won only three more games the rest of the season.

"At the time it was very difficult," Stover said. "As it ended up, it's been the greatest blessing of my life to be able to come to Baltimore, be a Baltimore Raven and get a Super Bowl."

NOTE: Former Raven Gary Baxter will be joined by a number of his ex-teammates for a wine-tasting event to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters at Christopher Daniel in Timonium on Monday. Tickets are available at garybaxter28.com.

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