What a week

e-mail Pete

A week unlike any other in Baltimore. Cal gets the call to the Hall and the Ravens host the Colts in the playoffs. Almost a surreal cauldron of pride and reflection for Ripken Jr. joined by the excitement, fear, anger, even mourning of tearing into the wound that is the Colts.

Cal’s big day held no real drama. Getting voted into Cooperstown was as a foregone conclusion as the sun rising in the east and that Peyton Manning will choke again in the playoffs. The only curiosity, where would he sit on the all time list for percentage of votes received. An impressive 98.53 percent said yes to longevity, to perseverance, to talent, to hard work, to doing things the right way…. to Cal.

The Ironman then made the media rounds, sitting down for interviews with each local television station, appropriately at the Sports Legend Museum at Camden Yards. There a top of conversation was struck by TV-11’s Gerry Sandusky. He asked Cal if he could go back to the age of 18, knowing what he knows now, would he? With the same lack of hesitancy that allowed him to commit just three errors in 1990, Cal said no way. The playing days were great, but where his life is headed, his excitement for the future has him only looking to the future. Imagine the life you’ve led if you have no desire to go back and try anything over. That is one complete Hall of Famer.

The rest of the week was devoured by the return of the Colts. With the story rehashed over and over, yet also with knew wrinkles learned (turns out a deal was struck that the Colts name and history would have been returned to Baltimore had the NFL allowed a team to come sooner… OUCH!).

I lived in Maryland at the time of the move, having grown up with season tickets to the Colts. Like many of you I learned of football through stories of the great championship days and by watching the Ruston Rocket go deep to Roger Carr. Although, the latter failed to happen nearly enough for the faithful at 33rd Street. (Hey diddle diddle, Lydell up the middle had fans scratching their heads at Ted Marchibroda’s play calling.)

My emotions bounced around all week, thinking about the good times that were stolen and wondering what if they had stayed. Irsay’s malevolence has caused me pain ever since. My football allegiance wandered aimlessly for years. My Dad and I tried to root for the Colts but that lasted only about six games into the first season. It was just too hard.

From there we adopted the Seattle Seahawks because of Curt Warner. A great running back at Penn State, Warner gave us something that felt like ours, but then we realized how ridiculous rooting for a team 3,000 miles away felt. For years then neither of us had a team.

Growing up in Montgomery County, most of my friends loved the Redskins. So finally, by about 1993 I went over to that dark side. Going to games at RFK and cheering for a team felt good. No, it felt great. But they weren’t really mine and the incomprehensibly crappy decisions by owner by Jack Kent Cooke and then Daniel Snyder finally left me again without a team.

Before the Ravens first season in Baltimore I got my first job in broadcasting. That sent me west to Missoula, Montana where, and this might surprise you, they don’t much care about the NFL. I missed out on the new relationship, only watching the Super Bowl Championship from afar.

Having now returned for a couple of years, it’s actually better for me not to be a “fan” of the Ravens. I can cover their exploits dispassionately which ultimately serves you better. But seeing the city go absolutely insane for their team and the possibilities again of a Championship run, it’s clear to me, time spent harboring hatred for Bob Irsay and Indianapolis is just a waste of time. The Ravens are here. They aren’t going anywhere, and even if the Colts pull the upset later today, there’s always next year. Football life is once again good in Baltimore, just enjoy it. As a fan of the game, and a guy getting to cover the most exciting thing on the American sporting landscape, I most certainly am.


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