Brian Donley loves Ravens football, make no mistake. But that passion doesn't completely explain why he dons a black duster — you can't miss it at home games, it's the one with pictures of Ravens defenders painted on it — and goes a little bit crazy for the purple and black.
It's when he can take his minor celebrity and do some good — maybe help raise money for a local charity — that the fan known as DEE-Ciple gets the most out of getting his Raven on.
"I like being an Ultimate Fan, yeah," says the 49-year-old Donley, one of 11 Ravens fans named to the Professional Football Ultimate Fan Association, a distinction that has earned him some recognition in Canton, Ohio's Pro Football Hall of Fame. "When you walk around the stadium, people like to get their photo with you; that's appealing. But being able to take that and do something in the community — that means more to me."
A lifelong Abingdon resident, Donley heads his own construction company. He and his wife, Amy, have two kids — daughter Aubrey, a senior at West Virginia University, and son Keegan, a student at Harford Community College. We caught up with DEE-Ciple via telephone while he was on a business trip to Texas. Even two-thirds of the way across the country, his thoughts remained on his town and his Ravens.
The factor in taking fandom to the next level: I like to be involved in the community, doing charitable activities. The Ultimate Fan [designation] allows me to be a little bit more seen or known or recognized by some folks. If I walked into a school and tried to do a charitable event, or help a school do a charitable event, as Brian Donley, I'm not going to do much for them. But if I walk in as the DEE-Ciple and I walk in with [fellow fans] Poetic Justice and Fired Up, then you have the opportunity to really make an impact with these groups.
Favorite part of game day: The tailgating and the camaraderie. We have a bus that we take to the games. We support a pretty good-size tailgate that's open to anybody who comes in. A lot of opposing fans, they get ahold of us and say, "Hey we're coming into town. Can we stop by?" We welcome all opposing teams. We welcome anybody to stop by and tailgate with us.
The outfit: It started off with the black duster with the painted players on it. Then we took on a little bit of a Western motif. There are about six or eight of us that travel with the dusters. We call ourselves The Posse when we travel, with the hat and the Western wear.
We went to Green Bay for the Monday night game a while back, and when we came off the airplane, there were about 10 of us with the dusters and the cowboy hats walking through the airport. This lady saw us and evidently called the manager at the hotel and said, "There are these mean guys checking in." The manager stopped us and asked, "Are you the mean guys?"
Are you approached during the games? When we're walking into or around the stadium, we walk around as a group of three, four or five of us, and fans want to come over and get their pictures with us. A lot of kids. We go to a lot of away games as a group. ... You would think that we'd be getting mobbed and tormented. But most fans want their pictures taken with us, even when we're out of town.
Even Steelers fans? I can't say that I've had my picture taken with too many of them.
Are you a superfan? Tell us why you should be Fan of the Week. Email your reasons and a photo to email@example.com