BY ERIKA BUTLER, firstname.lastname@example.org
5:26 PM EST, January 17, 2013
Laura Finney won her two tickets by finding the Ravens Golden Logo.
Nicole Crone is going with a group of girlfriends, while Jaime Hoback will be on the road again after a trip to Denver last weekend.
And the Schwartzes are making it a family affair.
They'll all be in New England Sunday evening, watching the Ravens play the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, a rematch of last year's title game they're all hoping will have a different outcome this year.
It's Ravens talk all the time around Harford County, and everywhere else around Maryland for that matter, as Sunday nears, and especially so among the many who will be making the trip north.
Finney found out Wednesday night she gets to go.
"I'm so excited. Last night, I'd just get up and do a little dance every once in a while," the Fallston resident said.
In the Ravens Golden Logo Contest, the Ravens painted two logos – one in Harford and one in Carroll – and posted a picture with just a hint of their locations. Fans had to figure out where the picture was, take their picture with it then post it to the Ravens page by 5 p.m. Wednesday. From the submissions, the Ravens picked one person from Carroll and one from Harford. That was Finney.
The logo was painted at Ripken Stadium. In the photo the Ravens posted, she could see just a little bit of the gates in the background.
She got an email from the Ravens with a subject line "Congratulations from the Ravens," which she thought was just one saying "thanks for your entry, but you didn't win." When she saw it had a phone number, she could hardly contain her excitement.
She wins two tickets to the game, two flights to Boston and tickets to the Ravens tailgate. They're flying up Sunday morning and coming home Sunday night.
A long day, but "it's totally worth it. It will be cold and long, but it will be totally worth it."
"This is a very big game, a championship game, a rematch form last year that they should have won in final seconds," Finney said. "I'm really excited to go up and cheer on the Ravens and get a better outcome than last year."
Nicole Crone, of Whiteford, is going on a girls trip to Sunday's game.
The Ravens season ticket holder has never been to an away game. Before it was even decided if the Ravens would make it to Foxboro, Mass., Crone decided she would go if they did.
"It's close enough. I bought two tickets and I didn't know who would go with me. A friend said she'd go, then two other girlfriends bought tickets, too," she said.
Crone and her friends are taking the bus as part of the trip organized by WNST, AM 1570.
"I want to cheer on my team," she said. She's going in person, rather than watching at home, "because it's just exciting. I've been at every home game, I've never been to an away game. It will be something that will make a lot of memories that will turn into treasures."
The retirement of Ray Lewis at the end of the season is another reason for Crone to go.
"We know it's the end of his career. I hope to just support our team and support [Lewis] because he's been really influential in the community," she said.
Like other fans traveling to see the game, Crone is predicting a win.
"I think it's going to be a tough game. We play them hard, but we're going to come home and then go to the Super Bowl," she said.
And for Crone, that might mean a trip to New Orleans.
"I haven't decided, but I'm hoping to go," she said.
Havre de Grace resident Jaime Hoback has already been to Denver, he's going to New England this weekend and hopes to be planning a trip to New Orleans Feb. 3 for the Super Bowl.
"I'm doing this to support Ravens Nation," the season ticket holder said. "And for Ray Lewis. I hope I don't see one of his last games until the Super Bowl."
Hoback, who graduated from C. Milton Wright High in 1993, went to the Ravens game by himself, but ran into a high school friend, Greg Stephens, who lives in California, and hung out at a Ravens tailgate.
Going into Sunday's game against the Patriots, the Ravens are 9-1/2 point underdogs just like they were against the Broncos, and everyone knows how that turned out.
Hoback went to the AFC Championship game in New England last year and is going again this year, hoping for redemption.
"I think we'll get a win. I think it's going to be a competitive game. I personally think it's going to be very competitive, but I feel pretty good. After last week's game, I'm pretty confident."
And if the Ravens pull off a win Sunday, Hoback hopes to be flying to New Orleans in a few weeks.
"I'm thinking about it. We'll see," he said. "It depends on if I can work some magic."
All in the family
For the Schwartzes, Baltimore football is in their blood and the Ravens bring the family together most Sundays in the fall.
Siblings Laurie Schwartz Kerr, Karin Schwartz and Rich Schwartz have Ravens season tickets and don't miss a home game. All three graduated from Fallston High, in 1988, 1990 and 1997, respectively.
Their grandfather was a founding member of the Colts Marching Band in 1947 and their father and uncle were in the band.
"It's not the glue that holds us together, certainly not, but it's such a big focus for all of us, it keeps us very connected," Karin Schwartz said.
So you can be sure the Schwartz siblings aren't going to miss a Ravens game and they'll be cheering whether they're at the games or watching from home.
Things get more interesting, however, when the Ravens play the Patriots, since the Schwartz sisters are both married to New England fans. And like the Schwartzes, the husbands are die-hard fans.
"There's that whole dynamic. It's just insane how many big games have come down to the Ravens and Patriots," Karin Schwartz said.
"It's great times. The whole family is together in one house, sometimes different rooms," Rich Schwartz said. "It's always great. A couple years ago in a playoff game in New England, we crushed them, so it was great for us. Then they had their year last year. We'll see who comes out ahead this year."
He's hoping for more than one reason it's the Ravens. If they win, he can take down the picture of him in his brother-in-law's house, the picture of him in a Rob Gronkowski jersey, that he signed "I love Tom Brady."
"I would love for that to come down this year," Rich Schwartz said.
Karin Schwartz said it's fun and irritating all at the same time to watch the game with Patriots fans.
"It's irritating in that Matt can turn any conversation to Tom Brady. You could be talking about tires, then suddenly it turns to Tom Brady," she said. "He does it now just because it annoys me."
Her brother-in-law always makes her somehow say something positive about the Patriots or negative about the Ravens.
"Then he'll nag at you until you tell him to shut up," she said.
She and her husband, Matt Desrosiers, will be watching the game on television with their son, Kyle, who sports Ravens wear, not Patriots (Schwartz had to agree to raise Kyle a Red Sox fan in exchange for the Ravens). Not that she'll be enjoying it.
If the Patriots are winning, Desrosiers will be gloating, Schwartz said. And if the Patriots win, and it's anything like last year, when the Ravens should have won, it's going to take her a while to get over it.
Rich Schwartz and his wife, Erin, and his sister, Kerr, and her husband, Chris, will be at the game in Foxboro Sunday.
"This is the rematch from last year. It's kind of that overtime period now that we finally have a kicker," he said. "I'm excited because it could be Ray's last game or, hopefully, an AFC Championship win. Either way it's a win for us."
"We've been privileged to see Ray's career throughout the years. He said this is last ride, and we're kind of taking it with him," Schwartz said.
As for a prediction, he won't be surprised if the Ravens are in New Orleans in a couple weeks.
If that's the case, Schwartz and his wife hope to be there, where the two met 10 years ago during the 2002 Super Bowl Mardi Gras celebration.