I like football and I like the Ravens, but I'm probably more of a casual fan than a die-hard.

The same can't be said for my husband. He gets fired up when he's watching a football game, and he takes a loss pretty hard, for a while anyway. He's glued to the television set for just about every Ravens game, unless there's something pressing we have to do as a family. I don't plan my day around the game usually.

That's fine, I'm OK with it. Me? I'm OK if I miss a game, and I don't need to watch all 60 minutes, which turns into a good three hours every time they play. I'm all for going to a friend's house and watching the game with them, but a lot of times Chris would rather just stay at home so he can really watch the game.

This season, I've taken to going out with the kids while the game is on. I'll go to the grocery store, Target (the stores are empty), sometimes to my parents' house, mainly to get the kids out of Chris' hair so he can watch the game in peace. I've got the radio and the smart phone to keep me up-to-date - I don't need to see every single play, and replay. And I can still tell you who won, who had a great play, who didn't.


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Once the playoffs began, however, it became a little different story. Call me bandwagon, if you want, but I'm not sure that's fair. I just pick up my attentiveness once the Ravens get down to business.

I still don't have to watch every down, every play - I'm happy to take the kids up for showers and bed so Chris can stay downstairs and watch the game, but I will plan my day, our day, around the game, though it shouldn't be hard to do, since the game starts so late.

But here's what I like about football, especially the post-season: the camaraderie and sense of community it generates.

Harford County and the entire state of Maryland are awash in purple. Not just on Purple Friday or on Game Day, but every day. I've never seen so much purple!

It starts conversations, wherever you go. "How about those Ravens?" "What are you doing for the game?" "Where are you watching the Super Bowl?" "How about that catch by Jacoby Jones to beat Denver?" And "Man, I hope Tom Brady gets fined for that kick!"

People are gathering, congregating and forming a Ravens community. The Ravens are bringing people together in a way that nothing else has in a long time. Everyone is cheering for the same team (most of the time); those who aren't cheering for the Ravens are the odd-man-out. Ravens fans everywhere are friends. The rallies are mobbed with people wearing their jerseys, their hats, their scarves, their EVERYTHING and ANYTHING Ravens.

Sports does that a lot. Look what happened earlier this fall. For the first time in more than a decade, Baltimore became a baseball town again, and people couldn't stop talking about the Orioles and their playoff run. It was fantastic.

Aside from the social aspect, look what it's doing for the economy. Stores that carry Ravens paraphernalia have been packed, non-stop, with fans buying whatever memorabilia they can.

Consider Poor Boys, which just opened this year in Abingdon. It opened at 10 p.m. the night the Ravens beat New England to win the AFC Championship. A week later, it was still jam-packed with customers. People just can't get enough of their Ravens gear. Recession? Not when it comes to the Ravens. People are plunking down lots of cash to be able to keep their tables at the local bars, then eating and drinking most of the day.

Don't forget all the people who are traveling to watch the Ravens in Denver, Foxboro and New Orleans. I've talked to a lot of people over the last few weeks who are willing to follow their Ravens to the end. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, they say.

So as Sunday's Super Bowl XLVII approaches, enjoy what the Ravens have done for the community. Revel in the merriment and celebrate. Here's hoping the Ravens are Super Bowl champions. Go Ravens!