When you're the ultimate Ravens fan, you have to ride around in style. While that may be a sports car for some or a truck with several Ravens bumper stickers for others, for Matt "Fan Man" Andrews, it's a purple bus dedicated to his favorite football team and the three other Bus Boys who ride with him.
Andrews, 70, of Forest Hill, recently re-did the Fan Bus, which was purchased about 10 years ago, he said, replacing the Fan Van, the group's original mode of transportation.
In June, he explained, the bus sat in his driveway "deteriorating."
"My wife said to fix it up or get rid of it. That's all I needed," he said.
The next day, Andrews had the bus wrapped with photos and tributes to the Bus Boys' favorite players.
On each side reads "Bawlmer Ravens" in gold letters. The back of the bus has a larger-than-life picture of Andrews and his fellow Bus Boys from Ravens Nest No. 1 in Bel Air: Dale "Maniac" Davis, John Dongarra, aka "Camo Man," and "Raven Rick" Dixon, all wearing their game day best.
Andrews, Davis and Dongarra were all chosen as VISA Ultimate Fans and are recognized in a section of the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, dedicated to all of the Ultimate Fans of the NFL's 32 teams. A photo of the three holding their recognition plaques in front of the Hall of Fame is also on the bus.
The bus is still purple, black and gold and has a big, red pair of raven eyes painted above the windshield.
On the tinted windows in white lettering reads, "Thanks to our troops," with the names and numbers of several beloved players, such as Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and Ed Reed. Of course, a large photo of longtime Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis adorns the bus' door.
The inside is just as spectacular as the outside. The interior is decked out with "an extensive sound system," Andrews said, and has an important piece of Baltimore football history, too.
The headboard of the bus, Andrews explained, pays honor to his uncle, William Andrews, aka "Willie the Rooter," who was the ultimate Baltimore Colts fan, he said.
"When he passed away in the '50s," he explained, "Colts players were his pallbearers," including the most famous Colt, Johnny Unitas. Those players who knew him signed the headboard, 35 in all.
"That's where I get my passion from," Andrews said of his uncle. "He lives on in our hearts."
When asked if loving Baltimore football was in his blood, Andrews laughed and joked, "Yeah, it's chromosome No. 19." He explained that he loved football as a kid, but wasn't a Colts fan right off the bat.
Having been born and raised in western Pennsylvania, 10 miles outside of Pittsburgh, Andrews grew up a Steelers fan — the Ravens' notorious rival. When he moved to Baltimore in his 20s, he fell in love with the Colts "just because of the personalities, and from there [I] fell in love with Baltimore."
When fellow Ravens fans give Andrews grief for his brief foray as a Steelers follower, he tells them, "I got smart. I grew up." He still has respect for Pittsburgh fans, though, and they respect him in return, he said.
Before Andrews was "Fan Man," he was a chemistry and physics teacher at Bel Air High School and is now an environmental scientist at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
"A Ravens fan can be anybody," he said. Andrews has seen fans "from all walks of life, all get-ups," including former students, such as Raven Rick.
"I see a lot of them," he said about his one-time students. "They all welcome me with open arms."
Locals love the Fan Man and Fan Bus, too.
Andrews and the boys do frequent tours around the stadium while playing music, which takes roughly 45 minutes, he said. They also have a reserved spot in the CBS broadcasting lot where they tailgate and fans can join in the celebration while eating a few of the famous Fan Man cherries: maraschino cherries soaked in a combination of whatever alcohol he has available at the time.
If the Ravens make it to the Super Bowl, Andrews says he will "definitely" be there along with the bus, but the group of men won't be driving it to Indianapolis.
Andrews said he already made arrangements for the bus to be transported to Lucas Oil Stadium since it gets only a measly five miles to the gallon.
Even if the Ravens don't clinch a Super Bowl spot this year, nothing will stop Andrews from attending every home game, tailgating and showing his Purple Pride. He already has plans of how to incorporate his life's passion even after death.
"It's all laid out," he said about funeral plans. Andrews explained that he has arrangements with Evans Funeral Chapel and will be placed in a casket that can fit between seats on the bus for transportation to St. Ignatius Church in Forest Hill. When there, Fan Man will have one last tailgate.
As he puts it, the day Andrews will stop following the Ravens will be the day he "can't drive or walk or eat cherries."