Sound Off: The Baltimore Ravens and Maryland State Pride
By Ross Hollebon
Part of me wanted to write about Beyonce’s attire during the halftime show of Super Bowl XLVII. Intricate black lace hugging curves looked like an ornate wrought-metal gate in the French Quarter of New Orleans — or maybe even a resemblance of some of the same style of work you can see when walking through historic downtown Frederick.
No matter what your thoughts are on the performance, Beyonce captured attention and made viewers and fans take notice. That is what entertainers do, especially ones of her caliber.
But what stood out to me even more during the Baltimore Ravens 34–31 NFL championship win over the San Francisco 49ers was a sense of pride at seeing the state of Maryland represented on this huge stage.
I can’t pretend that Frederick isn’t made up of a crossroads of NFL fans, but make no mistake, the Ravens contingent is strong and was able to revel in Sunday night’s Super Bowl XLVII victory in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Even though Frederick hosts a football fan landscape comprised of a number of Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles fans, the Ravens are the team that has worked the hardest to promote and nurture a relationship with each region of Maryland — all while giving fans an opportunity to share their state pride.
From day one that was part of the plan by the Modell family. They moved their franchise to Baltimore from Cleveland in 1996, and the organization reached out to their new Maryland fan base to vote on the name of the team. They also insisted on having the state represented on the uniforms.
Since their inception in 1996, the Baltimore Ravens have sported a version, one that was updated in 1999, of a coat of arms-style shield with Maryland flag imagery and a B and R as part of their game jerseys. This symbolic regional gesture on the jerseys allows fans to wear their pride on their sleeves as they watch their heroes do the same. It has been embraced by Ravens fans, and the pride of Ravens fans from Maryland was on display at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Super Bowl Sunday.
I couldn’t have been more excited as a native Marylander by the things I saw and heard during CBS Sports’ coverage of the game.
During Alicia Keys’ rendition of our national anthem, Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the state was represented by the chorus of “O” — a Baltimore touch which originated at Memorial Stadium for Orioles baseball games — by the thousands of Ravens fans in attendance.
I have witnessed this at Frederick Keys games as well, but as someone who worked for the Ravens organization for many years, I would always judge how well the fans traveled each road game by how loud this bellowing was. Even through the TV on Sunday night, I could tell it was a strong number in the Big Easy.
There were also fans in the stands waving Maryland state flags. Did anyone else out there get pumped up seeing the state flag on display like that in celebratory fashion under the spotlight that only the Super Bowl can bring?
And then there is Maryland’s own Olympic legend Michael Phelps. It was so incredible during the past two Summer Olympics to watch the Frederick community, as well as all of Maryland, cheer for a local favorite to break world and Olympic records on an international stage — and it is that much more fun today to see him as a sports fan, supporting his hometown team.
Tomorrow morning Ravens fans from Frederick and all over the state of Maryland will descend upon Baltimore for one final act of team and state pride for this miraculous 2013 playoff and championship run. They will witness a parade in the streets of Baltimore that celebrates the accomplishments of an organization that embodied the spirit of our state and of Frederick. It is a celebration of overcoming odds and much larger cities and states in a quest to show we are one to be reckoned with and one who can produce results worthy of praise.