Ravens fans keep their optimism cautious

Setting the scene

October 02, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun Reporter

Ron and Dave Shriner are not sold..

Yes, the father-and-son duo have been Ravens fans since the franchise moved from Cleveland in 1996. Yes, Ron Shriner is a season-ticket holder and has not missed a home game. And, yes, he has spent more than $12,000 to refurbish a school bus into a mobile shrine dedicated to the team.

But as encouraged as he is by the Ravens' undefeated start, even Shriner acknowledged before yesterday's game that he is "cautiously optimistic" about the team's chances of reaching the postseason.

"It's great," said Shriner, who teaches history at Northeast High School in Pasadena. "But you've got to keep in mind that they really haven't played anybody yet. Today's game will be a huge test for these guys."

Shriner's comments summed up the mood of many Ravens fans who circulated around M&T Bank Stadium before yesterday's game against the San Diego Chargers.

Many said they were delighted by the Ravens' status as one of just seven teams with an unblemished record through three weeks. Some, like 49-year-old Tom Heffernan from Baltimore, even went as far as to predict a Super Bowl appearance for the Ravens, which would be the club's first since winning the championship in the 2000 season.

Others, however, expressed reservations about the team's start. Some pointed to the fact that the Ravens' first three opponents were a combined 0-8 before yesterday.

A few, like 23-year-old John Morgan from Baltimore, were concerned that quarterback Steve McNair was taking too many hits to stay healthy for the rest of the season.

"If he gets hurt, Kyle Boller would come in, and I don't think he's prepared for the big leagues," Morgan said of the first-round pick in 2003. "If McNair can stay healthy, we'll definitely be in playoff contention."

While many fans haven't made reservations to Miami, the site of this year's Super Bowl, they - like Shriner - are confident that the Ravens will at least make the playoffs.

"How deep they go in the playoffs against good teams like Indianapolis and Cincinnati, that remains to be seen," he said.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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