WE ARE A RAVENS NATION: The breakdown and analysis of a path to immorality and a Nation.
I want all to those who consider themselves a fan of sports, opera, art… whatever, to open your fanatic hearts and soul to realize that this moment in history is one of those rare moments where you will be able to say I was there, here, with this person or that one.
And then imagine how we all as fans become intertwined with our teams, their players and causes… win, loss, personal struggles… a binding dramatic relationship where a team becomes treated like one of our own.
This relationship is the building blocks of passions that become the cause and effect of family, which is the compelling aspects of all fans… This moment for fans of NFL football is a moment to be compelled and perceive, experience and bear witness to the birth of a new fanatic Nation of fans and a team of A RAVENS NATION.
This reality came into full view from trisecting events, thats center point was Ray Lewis. The early return from a triceps injury that was expected to sideline Ray at least 1 game into the playoffs… The first round playoff game against the Colts that would be played in Baltimore… The unexpected announcement of retirement at the end of the season.
When this trisecting event became known, I began to think and then build an equation that use these variables to projected the significance for both Ray Lewis and Ravens football, which established the necessity of a Denver playoff game as part of the equation.
As my son Chase and I worked on the scenario it was discovered that a playoff game with the Patriots would have to also be in the equation.
Finally, for the sum to be correct, a proof of sorts was needed and was found in the indelible recall of a ‘first time ever’ memory… Thus, a Superbowl that featured the 49ers was the only true choice with the prominence to produced this type of moment… a head coaching battle between brothers, on opposite sides of the field.
Also determined were the undertones of a Biblical or Mythological type battle of brothers, where only one could claim absolute fruits of victory.
This equation and product would settle all old debts and bring to fruition the legacy and greatness of Ray Lewis and additionally would legitimize for all fans of Baltimore NFL football… that they were part of this greatness… a indisputable nation… A RAVENS NATION.
To give some meaning to this equation and its product was reasoned a bit of history will be given below.
For those old enough to remember and for those that were there (like myself), when the surreal became real, and a “I was there moment.”
A moment where time languished, fans gathered, not to watch a game or participate in celebration but to stand in the dark and cold one late March night. A gathering provoked by the spreading words of approaching plight, which came in the form of Mayflower moving vans… lined up in front of the Baltimore Colts training complex in Owings Mills.
When I arrived, bustling about were Baltimore County’s finest that had begun to line the entrance of the Colts complex. A little further down, beyond the guard shack a well lit parking lot where 3 tractors and trailers standing ready to be filled.
All who gathered, curiously shuffled about trying to get a better view, when suddenly, out of the din of murmured speculations came the recognizable face of local sports commentator Chris Thomas in a determined and hurried panic like pace.
Passing through and beyond the fortified guarded entrance his weary face beneath the hood of a blue WBAL jacket came into view; visibly shaken and angered.
When all at once, with a sneer and lost look in his tear-filled bloodshot eyes came a proclamation none wanted to hear but expected: “they just took it down, they took it off the wall, Unitas’s Jersey and loaded in the truck, its over… God dammit!”
You could feel the chaos in his voice and taste the bitter air leave his lungs; motionless, numbed from his words our vigilance made the sounds from the mixed precipitation that piled on brims and peaks of our Colt hats, which became the melodic chatting of Taps.
Dazed by disbelief our eyes transfixed with thoughts; captive eyewitness of an impromptu gathering of blue and white soaked souls that became hostages… made eyewitnesses to a funeral persuasion of Mayflower moving vans.
As billowing blackened diesel smoke pour into the dimly lit sky, each truck was readied, signaling to the football Gods the death of one of its greatest creations… yet, also promising new life at the same moment.
Life? Yes, life… as each trailer became the representation of both a tomb and a womb that would hold the collective body of our beloved Colts and breathe life-sustaining energy into the potential birth of a new NFL franchise in the city of Indianapolis.
A new franchise that would not only be just moved but would be bathed in the same colors and branded with our Colt trademark, which none of us there that night or the tens of thousands of fans that would wake in the morning to hear the news could have never fathomed… as the third and final van made the left turn on Bonita Rd and passed slowly out of sight, it would be the last time we could say “We are NFL football fans… fans of the Baltimore Colts.”
With hands in pockets, where slumped shoulders bracketed our stoic stares of our heartfelt loss that seethed on the inside from rage of this dastardly, cowardly deed; choked up, numbed by aguish, our voices reduced to pasused whispers .
Over the next few months and years battles would be waged in a war to retain any piece of identity that allowed for a sense of dignity in our loss; battle after battle was lost, hopes faded and then were extinguished by lost efforts for expansion within the NFL.
But then something unexpected happened, a miracle of sorts, the CFL came to town and the Baltimore Stallions were born.
And it was from this most of unlikeliest of twists of fate where Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell a forefather of what has become organized professional football took notice. The Stallions were successful and most importantly, fans, which continued show up in ever increasing droves in support of the team.
With Modell facing problems similar to what had created our loss, Modell was compelled to realize that this proved that Baltimore was deserving of an NFL franchise.
Modell moved his team to Baltimore in late 1995… but the move came with one huge karma kicker that had the Football Gods smiling: The Browns’ name, colors and history of the franchise would remain with the fans and city of Cleveland, that would also include all past records and attributions of its Hall of Fame players. There would be no stealing of iconic treasures or suckling from the teats of ill-gotten booty.
Now… There are bunches and bunches of stories and detail that could or should be given… But lets get down to business of how codifying cosmic tumblers were set in motion from Ray Lewis announcement of retiring and produced the impetus of singularity of a nation, A RAVENS NATION.
At the beginning of this season, by design or just a fluke of fate, Ravens ownership decide to break free from the comforts experienced by diehard Baltimore Colt fans and the Westminster practice location was no more.
This move made possible a furthering of the coalescing between fans of the Colts and present day Ravens. And if given the ability of hindsight, it could be surmised that one or some in the management of the Ravens envisioned the possibility that this could be Ray Lewis last year. That this was the year to break out and fire up the crucible, which is only used is for forging a singular and permanent identity.
Now, they had previous quantifiable success… that included a Superbowl victory and some Hall of Fame materials. Also, there were the Flacco, Rice, Reed, Suggs materials and a lot of emerging talent that are the hardening properties of consistency of success… and most crucial of all, they had the fire.
A fire with the heat and intensity produced by the passion of an eternal energy source, which is the embodiment of greatness that flows in all that is Ray Lewis. With his retirement announced, the potential to become one of few football immortals, the flame became white-hot with the intensity to melt and pour into a single mold a nation of fans that suffers from a split indentify.
This did not mean that we would forget our memories of Colt greatness; it just meant that the hue on the Unitas jersey would become little more purple than blue and the white a bit closer to black.
But for Baltimore there was a need for something more. For our iron to become steel old debts would need to be settled… with the game against Indy a known, only a Denver playoff would produce this opportunity.
The game against Indy was the unlikely success of a team from the potential of Andrew Luck… in the face of negativity swirling around the letting go of Manning, which was also Karma conflict with the Football Gods and fans everywhere.
This Karma deficit for Indy was leveled with Pagano’s battle against life threatening cancer. So this battle and potential became the proportion found in individual perseverance… Ray Lewis in possibly his last game, which stakes were raised by the game being at home and battling an injury that could have been career ending.
Thus the battle then became: Career Ending Game and Triceps Tare VS Life Threatening Cancer Scare. With a realized Karma boost that favored any team playing the Colts under the disrespecting of Manning.
Consequently, the potential of outcome allowed Ray Lewis and the Ravens the ability to strike a deceive blow for all fans and would begin to cure the debilitating effects of our codependent identity.
The game against the Bronco’s had many twits of potential. The fate of the Baltimore Colts was never made any clearer when Baltimore had the first pick of the 1983 draft and choose Stanford standout John Elway.
Elway did not want to play for Baltimore and snubbed Irsay and the Colts with threats to sit out the 1984 season if not traded to another team. Elway went to Denver had a Hall of Fame career and is now the face of management for the franchise.
Another potential was Payton Manning. Manning brought Indy into prominence and did so under a humble yet conspicuous reverence, which paid homage to his Colt heritage and Unitas that came with a visual respect of wearing of the icon Unitas trademark high-tops.
Elway who once snubbed Colt greatness now embraced it with the same self-serving interests. The Karma boost from Elway’s good deed with Manning produced a net gain with fans but still there was a personal debt with Baltimore fan to settle.
Thus battle was between two greats of the modern era and this game was dubbed: Career Ending Game and Triceps Tare VS Career Ending Neck Repair.
In the end it would be a lightening bolt from the hand of Joe Flacco that would settle Elway’s debt with diehard Baltimore Colt fans, which would go right through his heart and will forever haunt Elway. The 70-yard pass and catch, AKA “The Rocky Mountain Rainbow.”
With all Baltimore Colt debt settled a connection was found for projecting the next game… Modell, Belichick and the Browns.
The game against the Patriots was for and about Art Modell and to settle the unknown riff with Belichick. Belichick was the head coach of the Browns when the team was moved to Baltimore and was promised the head coaching job but the day after the deal was finalized, Modell fired Belichick without explanation.
One can only surmise the reasons for the firing but the effort and record the Ravens have produced when playing the Patriots in the Belichick era suggests something more… more that would be the relationship between Ravens General and greatest battlefield warrior and his leader and team owner.
Ray Lewis and Art Modell have this type of bond that has extended beyond battlefield respect into a father/son bond… Like that portrayed in the movie the Gladiator.
Were whispers between the two of the Belichick riff has made Ray the protector of Modell’s expressed feeling, which one can only guess were to not let Belichick win any game played agianst the Ravens… and after the Shannon Sharpe calling out of Belichick after the loss to the Ravens, the interview done for the Superbowl between Sharpe and Lewis should provide some insight of this awareness between Modell and Lewis.
Thus the game played would be: Respect and Actions to Defend and Honor Greatness VS Actions of Disrespect to Deny Greatness.
With a win against the Patriots, Ray Lewis will now end his career with the ability to become one of the few immortals, in a battle that will be the first of its kind, a Biblical type battle between to brothers where only one can claim victory.
A victory that has the potential to not only be remembered as a first between Head coaching brothers but also could replace the Baltimore Colts 1958 Championship Game known as “The Greatest Game Ever Played” and be the defining battle that ends all Baltimore football wars of independence and acceptance of our RAVENS NATION.
As I evaluate and define the battle against the 49ers it has been realized that this will be a battle that will be fought on many philosophical fronts and victory will greatly depend on the values and strengths that can define a team philosophy that will depend on the self-control of the head coach. There are 6 main factors of Virtue and Strength:
1. Wisdom and Knowledge
3. Love and Humanity
6. Spirituality and Transcendence
In the above, Temperance is the value and strength where self-control resides along with forgiveness, mercy, humility and prudence.
This is where I find the difference between the strength of the Harbaugh’s… Cohesive Team Philosophy. This is also where I find brother Jim’s Achilles heel.
Jim Harbaugh was and is the personality of a high-strung quarterback and has an awareness of strength that depends on his QB experiences… which is the recognized Field General and where all ability for success reside. Lets also note that Jim played for the Indy Colts, and was the Head Coach at Stanford. Sure… he also played for the Ravens, and did beat the Colts thier first trip to Baltimore after the move… and yes, Jim did present that game ball to Johnny U after the game… BUT that just wont do it.
John Harbaugh on the other hand has a broad awareness of strength that does not depend but seeks strength, which is found in the unity of family… We live and play as a family… and the responsibility of Field General resides in each member of the team.
When this is realized, Temperance and self-control becomes relevant cause to project the appearance of Alex Smith… Lets not forget that Jim Harbaugh was labeled AKA “Captain Comeback” from his pro days. It is not clear if Kaepernick will be pulled or injured for the Smith appearance. For this game to become one of the greatest, A Smith appearance in the game is a double must; come with adversity… and must be at least a 3 score deficit that will come late in the 3rd qtr.
This comeback will fall short and will be at the hand of brother Jim loosing his self-control. Thus this game is dubbed: Temperance VS Intemperance – The Battle of Self-Control. Final score 33 – 27… Ravens WIN!
WE ARE A RAVENS NATION!