As the 2000 Ravens embraced their defensive identity and a run-first offensive strategy, head coach Brian Billick -- coordinator of wide-open passing offenses in Minnesota -- joked that he'd been "pulled over to the dark side."
Almost 14 years later, an artist in Mexico has designed a football helmet to better depict Billick and the Ravens' fall.
In a project posted on behance.net, artist John Raya shows off his Star Wars-themed redesigns of helmets for the teams in the AFC and NFC. Raya substituted each NFL city with a planet from the Star Wars universe and each NFL mascot with a character or creature from the the sci-fi staple.
Raya did not immediately respond to an email in which I asked him to explain his methodology.
The Baltimore Ravens become the Mygeeto Siths in Raya's redesign, perhaps partially because he sensed much fear in an organization that just missed the playoffs for the first time in five seasons (fear is the path to the dark side, after all).
For those of you who grew up with fewer Star Wars video tapes and action figures than I did, a Sith (think Darth Vader) wields the dark side of the Force, an ancient and mystical power, for evil. A Jedi (think Yoda or Luke Skywalker) harnesses the power of the light side of the Force for good.
While Ravens fans who watched a few of George Lucas' movies growing up will no doubt understand why the Ravens become the Siths, they might have some trouble understanding how the New England Patriots become the Coruscant Jedis in Raya's universe (actually, it's probably just Obi-Wan Kenobi's and Bill Belichick's matching penchant for hoodies).
Other notable (and often clever) redesigns include the Ryloth Droidekas (Pittsburgh Steelers), Raxus Prime Jawas (Cleveland Browns), Hoth Tauntauns (Denver Broncos), Dagobah Yodas (Philadelphia Eagles), Yavin 4 X-Wings (New York Jets) and Naboo Gungans (Washington Redskins).
The Ravens, remember, won the 2001 Super Bowl after their fall to the dark side. So maybe Vader was right, all along.