Lot’s of Roman Numerals up there, right? In the first installation of this series I began to set the stage for the ensemble masterpiece that was the 2013 Superbowl. If you haven’t checked it out, you may want to, especially if you aren’t a fan of football or sports. We established the amorphous narrator of friends, family, fans, and commentators, the best of them being Showtime’s Inside The NFL. We made a milieu with the NFL Playoffs and the many story worthy teams that inhabited the landscape. And we were introduced to the San Francisco 49ers, their challenging coach, Jim Harbaugh, and their wunderkind Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.
Now it’s time to get acquainted with the Baltimore Ravens, the redemptive story of their de facto leader, Rey Lewis, and the unlikely connection they have with the 49ers.
I cannot tell you, how proud I am of this organization…To the people of Baltimore and the state of Maryland, this belongs to you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Art Modell, Owner 1961-2003
The origin of the Baltimore Ravens is often the subject of heated debate. Fevered fans turn into intellectual historians when it’s brought up. That’s because the team can be as old as sixty eight years old, or as young as eighteen years old depending on the point of view. The current incarnation of the Baltimore Ravens was founded in 1996 amidst a fire of controversy. After several clashes with the city of Cleveland, owner of the Cleveland Browns, Art Modell endeavored to move the historical franchise to Baltimore Maryland. After contentious negotiations over naming rights, property, and other things, Cleveland let Modell move the franchise on one condition: Cleveland would keep the Browns name, logo, and color scheme. Thus the Ravens were born.
Some would like to say the Ravens hadn’t existed before this point, but others point out that when Art Modell left for Baltimore, he took players, managers, and administrators with him that were once a part of the fifty-one year old Cleveland Browns, and thus they were the Browns in Ravens skin. They weren’t plagued with he lack of funds, infrastructure, or administrative experience other new franchises, like the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Carolina Panthers.This argument reared its head again when the Ravens won the Superbowl in 2000, a mere four years after they were founded. Whether the NFL record books decide to put an asterisk beside their win, being the youngest team to ever win the big one, there would always be one in some fans’ minds.
The irony came the two seasons after, when the Ravens were presented with two challenges befitting new franchises, finding a good quarterback and salary cap space (translation: money). They didn’t find one, and their fall from grace was as fast. While their defense excelled, their offense failed to score points. One man was there to see all of this, the defacto father of the team. No, I’m not talking about Art Modell. I’m talking about the man you saw in the preview video, a man who might deserve his own post, Linebacker Ray Lewis.