I've had to explain this about 50 times since February: Yes, I was at the Super Bowl, but I didn't even go in to watch the Ravens play in the Super Bowl. Best decision of 2013, and maybe, just maybe, ever.
You see, it's not really about the athletics for us Baltimore fans. Yeah, we want our players to crush and destroy, to run the fastest, tackle hardest. Who doesn't? But that's not all. Not even close.
What true Baltimore fandom is about is the same thing our city is about — being a gritty, underdog crew that scraps for every ounce of respect we (all too infrequently) receive. We're not the hottest (exception: Torrey Smith — long hair don't care, sir — you are a God), or the most polished. We're not the darlings of the media. We're not the titans of anything really, except kitsch and quirk.
But damn, are we fiercely devoted to each other.
Passionate and hot-tempered, we can talk about Joe Flacco's inconsistent passing or the defense's sometimes spotty coverage, but no one else can. No one.
In essence, we are the greatest dysfunctional family the NFL has ever known: loud, crass and unfailingly in love with our men in purple … or black … or white.
So for me, New Orleans wasn't just a chance to cheer on a team at the Super Bowl. Rather, it was the culmination of all the championing I've ever done as a Ravens' fan, to give back a little of that blood, sweat and tears spirit that our team has given to me, to all of us.
I spent 44 hours driving, round trip, in an RV, without a shower, for the three-day opportunity to live in a random stranger's backyard. Gross? Kind of. Risky? A little. Glorious? The once-in-a-lifetime kind.
Perhaps even greater than being in that electric energy of those moments was seeing how entirely consumed the Big Easy was by my comrades in black and purple (San Francisco who?) Everywhere we went, there was a little bit of Charm City — large, charge and in your face.
A life-sized Natty Boh hanging off a bar balcony in the French Quarter? Check. Midnight chants of "Seven Nation Army" up and down Bourbon Street? Yep. Girls and guys doing God knows what for black and purple, NOT red and yellow, beads? Practically constant.
I watched the game from a packed bar on Bourbon Street. There, our crew met three older gentlemen from Cincinnati who had attended every single Super Bowl, together, since they were kids. They regaled us with tales of their favorite games and their favorite teams. And this match-up? "How could you not cheer for those crazy Ravens?" they simply said. "You guys aren't always on fire, but your games are always fun to watch."
And true to form, so was Super Bowl XLVII. Maybe I should've been insulted by their comments but I was too busy being proud of that "crazy" part. And like coach John Harbaugh said after the game, "It wasn't pretty, it wasn't perfect, but it was us."
B contributor Meekah Hopkins wears her lucky 1996 Ravens team shirt (you know, the one with the now illegal logo) every week and, not to brag, keeps her mint-condition Ray Rice rookie card on proud display at home, even in the offseason.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun