Dad makes a bet
On October 9th, 2000, my Dad and I were at PSINet Stadium watching The Ravens lose to the hated (and apparently much better) Pittsburgh Steelers. The defeat put the Ravens at 5-4, and the fact that they hadn't scored a touchdown in five straight games was making the season look pretty mediocre.
Towards the end of the game, my Dad, who had just turned 71, turned to me and predicted that The Ravens were going to make it to The Super Bowl. Thinking that possibly dementia was setting in, I replied,
"Dad – if The Ravens make it to The Super Bowl this year, I'm taking you there to see it in person – my treat!!!"
When you make a promise to your Dad, no matter how crazy, it's one that must be kept, so three months and many thousands of dollars later we somehow wound up in Tampa for an unforgettable weekend.
The night before the game the city was electric – it was as if conservative Southwest Florida had been transformed into Mardi Gras. We stood in the streets listening to bands and watching all the craziness (including many young women who took delight in "flashing" my Dad!!) – knowing that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Not only did I bond with my Dad but with the citizens of Baltimore and Maryland. From sitting around a small TV in a bar watching the Terps basketball team blow a 10 point lead to Duke with 60 seconds left to chatting it up with Colts legends Johnny Unitas and Art Donovan, the buildup to "The Big Game" was enormous.
Then there was the game itself. Our parking space was so far away I had to hold up and push my Dad (who was having pretty bad knee troubles) for the long walk. But once we arrived, even from our nosebleed seats, the game was everything we expected and more. One thing was for sure - we learned that events such as this one can bond an entire city as well as a father and son.
My Dad is in his 80s now and still going strong, and often, much to my Mom's chagrin, talks about how The Ravens Super Bowl victory was one of the best weekends of his life. I would have to agree!
The first thoughts that come to mind are the great Ravens' defense, the key addition of Shannon Sharpe as a free agent, beating Denver at home and then going on the road to defeat Tennessee & Oakland, and then beating the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. However my best memory of that Super Bowl Season was watching the game with my wife & parents and then driving to downtown Baltimore with my wife. We stood in the streets watching vehicle after vehicle go by with Ravens fans beeping their horns, yelling, and celebrating the fact that Baltimore was once again a Super Bowl Champion.
Rooting for Ravens since 2nd grade
I was only a second grader when the Ravens made their magical run to the Super Bowl. I have many fond memories of watching the games, especially the playoff games next to my dad and mom. However, my most vivid memory comes from the post-Super Bowl celebration. I can remember sitting in Mrs. Hennegan's classroom at Pot Spring Elementary and watching the Ravens' Super Bowl parade while the entire class drew posters to hang up that proclaimed our beloved football team's victory. Now, ten years later, I'm a senior at Dulaney High School and I'm desperately hoping for another Ravens parade this February.
Our favorite memory acutally occurred Super Bowl weekend when my girlfriend and I (now wife) decided on Thursday night that we were going to drive to Tampa to try to get tickets to watch our team in the Super Bowl. There was nary a ticket around. News reports told stories of several local travel agencies that were desperate for tickets. People who had bought Super Bowl packages were flown to Tampa and had hotel rooms, but did not have tickets to the game. Everyone told us we were crazy and that we would never get tickets. But our team was in the Super Bowl. We had to try.
We left that night, driving straight through to Daytona where we stopped Friday afternoon for lunch, stopping only for gas and to hit the ATM machine. We had to stock up on cash in case we were lucky enough to find tickets. We ended up staying in Orlando because there were no hotels in Tampa. We tried and tried to get tickets but there were just none available. We drove to Tampa on Saturday and hung out at the team hotel for awhile, then on to the stadium where we participated in the NFL experience. That night we went to the Gasparilla Pirate Festival and drank and danced the night away, scouting out bars to watch the big game in case we couldn't find tickets.
After two days with no luck, Super Bowl Sunday had arrived. We decided to make one last-ditch effort, and drove to the team hotel. We even made a little sign that read "Just drove from Baltimore, Need 2 PLEASE." We hung out in the hotel lobby for several hours before literally getting "kicked to the curb." The lobby was so packed that everyone who was not a guest of the hotel was ushered out. We stood outside the hotel for another hour or so, and just as we were about to give up (around 2 p.m. or so) a man came out, with a stack of tickets in his hand. He looked at us and said "How many do you need?" I was speechless, my heart stopped, could this be happening? I fumbled for my wallet and uttered "Just two." That man, as I would later find out, was [Ravens senior vice presidend of public and community relations] Kevin Byrne. I hugged him, his wife, and his son, and told his son "Your father is a great man!" As we left the hotel we were offered thousands of dollars for our tickets, for which we had just paid $325 each (face value). Were we going to sell our tickets ... NGATA CHANCE! We drove to the stadium and the rest, as they say, is history!
Thanks, Mr. Byrne, for giving us a great championship memory! If we don't win the PSL lottery look for us the next time the Ravens make it to the Super Bowl!!!!!
Bill and Lisa Russell
New Freedom, Pa.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun