I have made a lot of fun of the Baltimore Ravens over the past few weeks. On Twitter and right here at the South Stands I have relentlessly teased the team, the players and the city that they hail from. Well, I'm not laughing now. The Ravens earned the last one of those, didn't they?
I surrender. You win, Ravens.
I sit here before this keyboard now free of snarkiness, mentions of uni-brows, Bert and Ernie, deer antler spray, double homicides and white suits, simply to say "congratulations". A tip of my officially licensed New Era Broncos sideline cap to you, Baltimore. You friggin' got it done. What more is there to say?
Most impressive was the way you did it. You came into the playoffs a Wild Card and, after doing away with the white-hot Andrew Luck and his Colts, you packed your bags and headed out on the road for an historic romp through the AFC. You went into Denver with its high altitude, low temps and lofty expectations and left Broncos fans united in blue. You toppled Brady and Belichick in their house and made it look easy. Then you overcame the week off before the Super Bowl, a mini-vacation a team with your momentum could have lived without. You showed up to New Orleans finely tuned for success.
When the lights went out, and momentum slipped away you recovered. The football gods tested you, allowed the Niners to get oh-so-close but your famous defense pulled through in the end. Joe Flacco put you in a position to win with his elite play, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the guys on the other side of the ball made sure that you did.
This run of yours is reminiscent of the Broncos glorious 1997 / 1998 season when they, too, took the trophy the hard way. That team had John Elway, whose window was closing. Yours had Ray Lewis who had won before, but not for a very long time, and for whom retirement was immanent. We here at a Mile High know how your fans feel, having been on the ride they’ve been on. It’s a magical kind of buzz that we hope to feel again soon.
In New Orleans it was the Baltimore faithful who traveled well. All reports from the Crescent City were that it was purple and black all over, that the Ravens fans made the trip in droves and Niners fans didn‘t. The Super Bowl sounded on television like a home game back in Maryland. It was as though the fans knew what the odds makers didn’t, that they would not regret the flight, that their Ravens would be hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
It was a good look overall, Ravens. You played like Champions, represented your fans and your city well, overcame diversity and delivered a story book ending to a post-season that will go down as one of the most impressive ever. We Broncos fans can appreciate that enough to set aside our biases and grant you an emphatic thumbs-up.
Have fun this week, Baltimore, celebrating with your cheating murderer of a linebacker and your half-retarded Cro-Magnon man of a QB. Hope nobody gets shanked at the parade.