Ehrlich, O'Malley root from suite seats

The politicians

Ravens Extra

January 14, 2007|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,Sun Reporter

On the day the moving vans showed up at Government House, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. made one last visit to the other piece of prime real estate that comes with the job: the skybox at M&T Bank Stadium.

Ehrlich is the first bona fide jock to occupy Maryland's governor's mansion in decades at least, and the former captain of his high school and college football teams wasn't about to miss the Ravens' playoff game with the Indianapolis Colts. But if the truth must be known, he said, he would just as soon have skipped the trip to the stadium and watched it on TV.

"When I want to watch a game, I want to watch the game," Ehrlich said as he walked into the State of Maryland's box yesterday. "Here, people want to come in the box, they want to talk to you. You don't want to be rude, but you want to watch the game."

But he made this last trip for his 7-year-old son, Drew, a budding jock in his own right who wanted badly to see the game in person.

Ehrlich got to the stadium a little late because Drew had a basketball game (he scored 16 points) and headed straight to the front rail of the skybox, almost exactly on the 50-yard line on the south side of the stadium. He stayed there through the first half, occasionally joined by his wife, Kendel, who was wearing a Ravens jersey with "Ehrlich" on the back.

On Wednesday, Ehrlich, who lost the November election to Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, will have to leave behind all the trappings of fan-in-chief, and for once at least, he and a few close staff members got to enjoy the game.

Nobody came in to talk about state contracts or politics. Instead, Ehrlich spent much of the time analyzing the Ravens' play with the Sports Junkies, hosts of a sports radio show he has appeared on for the past few years.

"He follows it. He really does," said Jason Bishop, one of the Junkies. "He knows all the spreads. He definitely knows what he's talking about."

"He has fun with us," said John-Paul Flaim, another of the Junkies, who appear on WJFK, a Washington station. "It's a lot different than when he goes on serious shows. He can talk football and be one of the guys."

Ehrlich, who started listening to the show during his long commutes while he was a Congressman, said he gets more comments about his appearances on the Junkies than anything else he does.

At the same time, O'Malley was taking a last spin in the city's suite as mayor. He said he didn't get to many of the games this season because of the campaign. But he said there's nothing better than the atmosphere of a postseason game. He said he made sure to get there early.

O'Malley, clad in black slacks, a shirt and a tie with a Ravens letter jacket, stood just behind the glass at the front of the enclosed area of his suite. The incoming governor had a little more trouble than the outgoing governor in watching the game, but he still caught most of the big plays.

O'Malley's wife, Katherine Curran O'Malley, and their four children joined him, along with staff members and supporters, including John Coale, who gave the governor-elect's campaign a boost at the end with a $500,000 loan. Coale's wife, Fox News commentator Greta Van Susteren, was there, too.

The physical move from the mayor's skybox to the governor's won't be much of a transition - they're about 50 yards apart.

The skyboxes are nearly identical, except that in one, there are pictures of Ehrlich hanging on the wall. The only picture of O'Malley in the mayor's box is a new one, a picture of O'Malley kicking a field goal at a Ravens practice last week. He made the kick.

"Right down the middle, a little low," O'Malley said.

It wasn't a long one, but in fairness, he was wearing wingtips.

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