Keith Parsons grew up in Montgomery County but now lives in Owings… (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun )
Forgive Keith Parsons for being a tad blissed out. The 35-year-old salesman, born in Redskins country, married into a Ravens clan and carrying a lifelong torch for the Orioles, is pretty sure he's having the best sports year of his life.
"I can't even really put it into words how cool it is to see the teams I root for not be jokes," he says. "It's truly been magical."
In recent days, when Parsons, who lives in Owings Mills, isn't trying on the RGIII jersey he got for Christmas, he's singing the praises of Ray Lewis and sending out giddy Twitter messages portending a Beltway boy's dream: a Ravens-Redskins Super Bowl.
"I don't believe you can have two teams, heart and soul, that you bleed for," he says. "But if I can root for any team other than [the] Washington Redskins it would be the Baltimore Ravens."
As the Ravens and the Redskins head into playoff games this weekend, even after Washington and Baltimore tasted similar glory in baseball, for the region's fans, chests are puffed, hearts swelling, eyes shining. Whether rooting for Nationals, Orioles, Ravens or Redskins, Maryland, for once, has found it impossible to go wrong.
Erin Weston, a public relations manager for Flying Dog Brewery, sent out a Tweet on the company account the other day that had little to do with work: "@Ravens @Redskins @Orioles & @Nationals all getting some post-season action this year. Been a damn good year for the #DMV."
"As cheesy as it sounds, if felt really good to send it," she says. "Entirely self-serving."
At the brewery's Frederick headquarters, the fate of the four teams has dominated water-cooler confabs for months. Though she's a Ravens fan, the Redskins' charisma and comeback story have pulled Weston in.
"You can't help but be happy for them," she says. "There are certainly die-hard people that bleed nothing but the color of their sports team, but for us average fans, certain teams hold special places in your heart, and the proximity between D.C. and Baltimore breeds that."
In Howard County, government buildings will be bathed this weekend in purple and burgundy lights.
On Sunday, folks expect the Interstate 95 corridor to all but shut down when the Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts take the field at M&T Bank Stadium, followed by the Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks at FedEx Field.
One real estate company warned folks to reconsider open houses. An art gallery-juice bar in D.C. took the if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em approach, deciding to become an impromptu sports bar for the day, showing both games on flat screens and selling purple health drinks to Baltimore fans, red ones, maybe with beets, for Washington people.
"In D.C. we see as many Ravens flags on cars as Redskins," says John Woods, who owns The B Spot on Capitol Hill. "I see this thing kind of building as both teams win on Sunday. It's going to be pretty exciting."
Things took off months ago at Sports Card Heroes, a memorabilia store in Laurel. With the loyalties of that town fairly split, owner Rick Currence has had to keep Redskins and Ravens goods in stock — as well as Orioles and Nats. His hottest ticket by far is anything with Robert Lee Griffin III, the Redskins' superstar rookie quarterback, on it. And he says quite a few Ravens fans are buying it.
"It's a great time to be a sports fan in this area — four teams in two different professional sports that you can consider a home team and they're all doing well," he says. "As a sports fan myself, it's been a lot of fun to watch the games and as a business owner it's been very good."
In fact, the last time Baltimore and D.C. both sent NFL teams to the playoffs was 1976. But at no point until 2012 had teams from both cities made it to the MLB postseason simultaneously.
Currence says that on Sunday he's going to turn on his television at 11 a.m. for pre-game shows and not switch it off until well into the evening. In Baltimore, Marty Glaze plays to do the same, hunkering down for his traditional game day tailgate with his family, everyone heavily hyped and dripping with purple.
Before the Ravens kickoff, they'll huddle before platters heaped with wings and attempt their best Ray Lewis. Someone will ask, "Any dogs in da house?" The rest of the crowd will bark back an adrenalized chorus of woofs.
There's no mistaking the Baltimore-born 48-year-old's team allegiance. Glaze wants to see his Ravens in Louisiana. But the idea of the Redskins joining them there tickles him even more.
"Wow," he says. "Wow. I would love that. That would be awesome. Absolutely awesome."
Baltimore Liquor Board Chairman Steve Fogleman will be rooting for both teams, probably starting at his Canton home, then perhaps wandering over to one of the nearby bars if his teams are up and the public revelry proves irresistible.
Fogleman grew up rooting for the Redskins in their glory days and then, living in Baltimore during Super Bowl XXXV, the city attorney became swept up in Ravens fervor. These days, both teams give him goose bumps.
He's been working on a cousin in the clothing business, trying to persuade him to manufacture a jersey that's half Ravens, half Redskins. "I know it sounds insane," Fogleman says. "But I would wear it."
"Obviously we'd like one of them to win the big one to really cement it," he says. "We can keep hope alive."
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