Before return home, city comes to Phelps

From Beijing To Baltimore

August 13, 2008|By Rick Maese

The Sun's Olympic correspondents, Rick Maese and Kevin Van Valkenburg, are blogging back and forth to each other at baltimoresun.com/olympicsblog. An excerpt:

To Kevin, et al.

It feels like years, but a couple of weeks ago I wrote a column about Michael Phelps moving back to Baltimore after these Olympics. I had a small line toward the end of the column, mentioning how Phelps hopes to nab Ravens tickets when he returns home.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti took note of the line, and I was asked how he could get in touch with Phelps. I happened to see his mother, Debbie, that evening at an Olympic rally in Towson and asked if she wouldn't mind if I passed along her phone number. She didn't, so I did. And the Ravens got in touch with her before she left for Beijing. They also gave her a pretty cool gift for Phelps.

According to the Ravens' top spokesman, Kevin Byrne, Bisciotti asked Debbie if they could do anything for Phelps. She said he'd love to have something from the team with him in Beijing. The Ravens wasted no time, sewing "PHELPS" on the back of a No. 08 Ravens jersey and getting the entire team to sign it. Before you knew it, the jersey was on a plane bound for China.

As if Phelps wasn't excited enough after the huge relay win here in Beijing, his sister tossed him a bag from her seat in the stands. Inside was the jersey.

Phelps didn't appear at the post-race news conference, but he told NBC that he was "pumped."

"I just remember after I got my medal, I walked back to the ready room where we were sitting, and everyone said, 'Let me see, let me see,' and I held up the jersey," Phelps said. "They're like, 'No, no, the medal.' I was like, 'Well, I'm excited about the jersey.' "

Pretty cool little story, no? It will be interesting if come this fall, we see Phelps every Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. He could be the team's most visible and famous fan.

I wouldn't harbor any fantasies about him playing quarterback, though. His long limbs and oversized hands and feet make him a great swimmer, but he's not so smooth on land. Then again, how many Ravens QBs are?

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