Ravens fans are out of bounds

October 24, 2007|By KEVIN COWHERD

There's a chill in the air, the leaves are turning and everywhere you can feel the gloom and paranoia and seething discontent. Which means, of course, that it's football season in Baltimore.

And football season means that Ravens fans are suffering again, as only they can.

To Ravens fans, the glass is always half-empty. The sky is falling. The sun is only even-money to come up tomorrow.

So even though their team is 4-3 and in second place in its division, Ravens fans are not happy.

This is because the Ravens are coming off a miserable loss to Buffalo, which, to hear their fans tell it, is like losing to Pikesville High.

Now the Ravens have a bye week, and then the schedule gets much harder. The fans sense catastrophe looming, something much worse than the war in Iraq or those California wildfires: The Ravens might not make the playoffs.

So the bars and sports talk shows and Internet chat rooms are filled with the angry mutterings of Ravens fans, which can be summarized thusly: Our team stinks.

And our offense stinks.

And the coach stinks.

And the players stink, and on top of that, they're overpaid and don't care.

Oh, you bet, it's a time of great joy for Ravens fans.

The other night, as I drove home, I listened to The Brian Billick Show on WBAL Radio, and somebody, Sam in Parkville, I think, was telling the Ravens coach how to turn the offense around.

I don't know what Sam in Parkville does for a living. Maybe he's an accountant or he manages a Bob Evans restaurant or drives a truck for UPS or whatever.

I'm guessing, though, that the last time he played football, it was two-hand-touch at the high school field and he was wheezing around with a gut full of Miller Lites and drawing plays in the dirt, which is not exactly how they do it in the NFL.

But he was on the phone with Billick, telling him the Ravens have to throw downfield more, and also they should run more slant patterns and screens.

It was an amazing conversation.

When Sam from Parkville hung up, Billick heard from Nick in Severna Park, who said the Ravens should run more trick plays.

Razzle-dazzle, that's the ticket, said Nick in Severna Park.

I almost drove off the highway.

Does this happen in any other business?

Does the head man at, I don't know, Black & Decker get calls from people who say: "You know, that new cordless power handsaw you guys introduced? That blade-change mechanism is all wrong. Let me tell you how to fix that ... "

Does the guy running McCormick have people call and say: "Hey, I'm a big fan. But who's your spice buyer? Get rid of him. Your red pepper is the worst. And another thing: You should streamline your distribution routes."

Billick somehow keeps his cool with these idiot callers. He must be on Prozac or some kind of mood stabilizer.

How else could you sit there, an NFL head coach for all these years with a pretty damn good record, a guy who got his team to the playoffs four times and won a Super Bowl, and listen to Sam from Parkville tell you what to do with the offense?

Here's another thing about Ravens fans: They have a chip on their shoulder the size of a giant redwood. I found this out from the sports talk shows and chat rooms, too.

In fact, I found out that just about everyone hates the Ravens these days.

I found out the referees hate the Ravens.

I found out The Sun hates the Ravens. I found out the national media hate the Ravens.

And I found out the rest of the NFL hates the Ravens, too.

All of them, apparently, spend vast chunks of their time trying to ensure that the Ravens never get a fair shake, which is why they never do, and why they're always getting the shaft.

Oh, yes, I have that on good authority, too.

Sam in Parkville said it was true.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

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