by Ryan Meehan
For some reason the Baltimore Ravens have always bothered me, but I’ve never been sure why. As a Giants fan, the obvious answer would be the fact that we lost to them in Super Bowl XXXV. I can assure you that is not the case.
The night of Super Bowl 35, I really didn’t have a whole lot of interest in football. I knew that the Giants had absolutely no shot of winning that game. We had tickets to see Clutch that night, and there was an ice storm that had pummeled the Midwest so that was really the only obstacle that stood between myself and a good time. Showing his dedication and love of live music, Hurley managed to get up the balls to drive Topher and I all the way to the Pig Pen in Clinton and back without killing us. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Clutch, they are a stoner rock band that hails from Maryland so they were clearly excited that not only did they have a football team back but that said team was about to win its first Super Bowl. They put on an awesome performance and believe it or not, all four of them looked to be even more hammered than Kerry Collins was by halftime.
What’s the point of that story? Nothing, other than to show you that it wasn’t the reason that I held so much disdain for Baltimore. I had completely forgotten about the game by the next morning, and since they were in a different conference than the Giants it certainly wasn’t a rivalry thing that set me off. Yet for some reason I was developing a searing hatred of the men in purple.
During their recent playoff run…I found myself asking: So what IS it that makes me hate them so much?
Is it because of Ray Lewis?
Not really. Although a lot of people seem to draw hatred from Ray Lewis for the incident that had happened just a year before (and Dubsism is right, he DOES know who killed those two men that evening) that’s not it. There’s all sorts of athletes who are involved in shady behavior, so for us to single out Ray would be crazy. He plays the game with an insane amount of passion that any sports fan can appreciate, and in the modern Super Bowl era he is one of the best linebackers to play the game. So it’s not that.
Is it because they stole the Browns away from Cleveland?
Even though the story I told above involved Hurley and I like the Cleveland Browns, I can’t fault Art Modell from moving the Browns franchise to Baltimore. Although it’s a decrepit city that was at the time (and still remains) in fucking horrible shape, Cleveland is in even worse condition and even you admit that you were confused which city I was talking about when this sentence started. The world of sports is a very dog-eat-dog existence, and in a way it was a team who had lost its team a decade and a half earlier getting back what rightfully stolen from them in the first place. It doesn’t make it right for Cleveland, but they would eventually get their team back a few years later and at least have the pleasure of renting Lebron James for their enjoyment. So it’s not that either.
Is it because when the playoffs started I said that the Ravens had no chance of winning the Super Bowl?
Wrong again, which is a little bit of a double entendre. In the business of picking games, you’re going to be wrong again and again. I’d picked against the Ravens in every game leading up until this point, and I’ll probably pick them to lose Super Bowl XLVII. Picking games is a total crapshoot, and you have to kind of have thick skin in order to write about sports because most of the time you’re going to be wrong. Las Vegas wouldn’t be still standing if people weren’t bad at things like that, so I still stand behind my shock in the fact that the Ravens have gotten this far.
And here’s one reason that everyone should probably like the Ravens:
As shitty as a town as Baltimore is, they need some kind of sports team
This is by far the most important – Baltimore has no NHL team, no NBA team, and with the exception of last year the Orioles haven’t been that good over the past few decades. Plus, white people tend to attend baseball games more than any other ethnicity and I find it hard to believe that Camden Yards is packed night after night when you consider the fear that spikes in their hearts the second they realize their Toyota might get broken into. I’m guessing between that and the lack of run support, attendance at Orioles games tends to dip significantly after the fifth inning. So although Baltimore may not be known to us here in the Midwest further than the filthy, heroin infested backdrop of “The Wire”, they have to have something to hang on to and the Ravens are it.
So what is it?
Over this past week, I think I’ve finally been able to put my finger on it: I hate the Baltimore Ravens because they are abusing the living shit out of this underdog thing.
As stated earlier, I am a Giants fan BUT I consider myself to be a fan of the league as a whole first. If I was only a Giants fan I would cry like a little bitch and take my ball home when they lose every year, and I can’t stand it when that happens to the Chicago Bears and everybody out here turns from being a “diehard” football fan to cursing the sport’s name within the span of two Jay Cutler interceptions. The Giants’ two most recent Super Bowl victories (XLII and XLVI) have occurred very much in underdog fashion – They got into the playoffs at the last minute both years and were dogs in every single game up through and including the Super Bowl.
But even I have to admit, I got kind of tired of the whole underdog story. This is fucking professional football for God’s sake…the Arizona Cardinals beat the New England Patriots this year, which is proof that the playing field is about level as it gets. That’s where that whole “Any Given Sunday” thing comes from, and it’s also the perfect segue into outlining what it is about this underdog thing that pisses me off to no end.
1. Movies are movies, this is sports
I loathe movies. In my eyes, there is no worse way for me to spend my time than watching a bunch of moving pictures documenting something that likely never happened. Although movies and sports are both forms of escapism, in my mind they couldn’t be any further apart. The NFL is the ultimate reality television show, complete with concussions, sexual assault accusations, and everything in between. You don’t have to get molested to “The Mighty Ducks” to know that the harsh realities of real life far eclipse the phony depression of Emilio Estevez’ dying movie career. This is the most irritating thing about the underdog story in my mind because every one of these teams thinks that their playoff run is going to be made into a Hollywood screenplay. Ray Lewis started pulling that shit Divisional Playoff Weekend when he gave his postgame tirade, which leads me to the next thing that I can’t stand about underdogs…
2. The “No Respect” card has been beat to death and has been for years
All throughout the last month, the Ravens have been barking to the media about how nobody expects them to advance in this year’s playoff which is total garbage. Yes, there are a lot of writers (including myself) who didn’t give them a shot in hell but if they spend so much energy talking about how they don’t care, why do they care so much? That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. If you really don’t give a shit about what is being said in the papers and you don’t read the papers, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S BEING SAID IN THE PAPERS. It’s pro football…Why should they care about who the underdog is? The only people who should really care about the spread in any game are the people who are gambling on the game. And since the rules forbid any NFL player from gambling on NFL games, it’s impossible for anybody who plays for the Ravens to fall into that category. Stop whining about how you don’t get any respect. If you can get the job done on the field (which you’ve been able to do for the past three weeks) you will have earned the respect that’s displayed on the scoreboard which is the only thing that counts. Seriously, grow a pair.
3. If you’re playing the “No Respect” card and you’re really upset about it, why are you so thrilled about being cast in the underdog role?
At first glance this appears to be a natural defense mechanism for having your abilities questioned, but when you think about it it’s pretty silly. Suppose somebody called you a “Bitch” when they bumped into you at the supermarket. Instead of coming up with something clever in response, you yelled out to everybody else in the aisle – “Hey everybody, this dude called me a bitch right here…You hear that? Well, when we get to the checkout counter and I whip out my coupons we’ll so who the real bitch is then won’t we?” Do you think everybody would rally behind you and cheer you on until you strolled out of the Schnuck’s with your celery held high in victory? Hell no. And if they heard the guy call you a “bitch” in the first place and your only counterpunch was that speech, they’d probably either laugh you out of the aisle or pelt you with baking soda until you looked like the garbage can next to the table where they did Whitney Houston’s autopsy. Maybe that’s a stretch, and I might need to ice down my crotch in the morning, but football is played on a much larger scale where everybody can hear and see everything you are saying and Tweeting. If you were really tough, when you were asked about the lack of faith that America has in your chances to win on Sunday you would simply grunt and move on to the next question. And let’s face it, up until this postseason that’s what we have known the Ravens to be.
4. The Baltimore Ravens have built their franchise on being everything but this
Everything that we know about the Ravens is based on them being a defensive powerhouse that can run the football. They are notorious around the NFL for being a brutal football team that punishes opponents and lays out some serious hits. So why all of a sudden are they taking the “no respect angle”? Shouldn’t they be writing those comments off and reminding us how good they are and how their end of the season slide was just a fluke and they should have had home field the whole time? And while I’m at it, didn’t the Ravens start the season 9-2? How is it possible that they’re true underdogs when they got off to such a good start? Because they lost four out of their last five? That doesn’t make them an underdog. We are supposed to know the Ravens as a team that can knock all of your teeth out, not a team that basks in the glory of everyone else saying they can’t do just that. As stated earlier, this is a franchise that used to be the Cleveland Browns. It seems wild to me that they wouldn’t want to just run with that story instead of getting Hollywood on everybody.
All of these things add up to the realization that I can’t stand the Baltimore Ravens for who they will be from this point forward because I will always remember who they are at this moment. They are a gritty team full of talented players who can’t shut the fuck up about how they don’t get enough credit for being a gritty team full of talented players. They are the most hardcore amongst all hardcore whiners.
And they’re probably going to win on Sunday. Bastards.