As I sit in my Hampden home
just minutes after the Ravens have won their second Super Bowl-listening to the Inner Harbor-sized fireworks bursting in the air above the Keswick Royal Farms store-and revel in victory to the gentle tinkling of falling shells on the roof of my home, I am overcome with a single thought: That Paul Rudd/Seth Rogen commercial at the two-minute warning was fucking long! What was that, like 13 minutes? Did they film that in real-time during the power outage? Holy hell, that sucked! I was so nervous I was about to eat my own foot and that damned commercial gave me enough time to marinade it first.
Of course, I should have known it would turn out OK; these Ravens don't do anything easy. If they're gonna go to the playoffs, you'd best believe they're not going as No. 1 seeds-they'll lose three out of four just to make it interesting. If they're going to win in Denver, they've got to do it with a 70-yard Joe Flacco-to-Jacoby Jones bomb and double OT. So when they win the Super Bowl, no way is it gonna be a 40-4 drubbing. And while it has been an absolute blast, the craziest roller coaster of a season this town has ever enjoyed/endured, I am glad it's over. I honestly couldn't take another minute of it.
They say it ain't over till the fat lady sings, but after Jacoby Jones' electrifying 108-yard touchdown return to kick off the second half put the Ravens up by 22, I was cranking a Mama Cass album and planning my outfit for the victory parade (bare midriff, lots and lots of sequins, whale tail). Then came the dark times. But I'm pretty sure that power outage was caused by the ghost of Art Modell. He ectoplasmed a transformer or something, then appeared in the Ravens' huddle and said, "Come on fellas, lets make it a show." And that show nearly 'effin killed me. As the once-mighty Ravens D lost Haloti Ngata and replaced him with an elite cadre of matadors, allowing Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers to sail back into the game, I lost faith, just like I did when the Ravens lost to the 4,738-year-old Charlie Batch in December and like I did when they had less than 40 seconds and 70 yards to go in Mile High. After Frank Gore's 33-yard run set up first and goal, the 49ers started draining the clock, and then they cut to that damned commercial that was so long it had its own commercial break (seriously, I would have beaten Paul Rudd to death using Seth Rogen's enormous Moai-like noggin had he been in the room), I was contemplating life as a guy whose team lost the Super Bowl. It wasn't pretty.
But finally, back to the action, on fourth and goal, just five yards to go for the 49ers to take the lead, Kaepernick took a moment from his busy biceps-kissing schedule to drop back to pass and, much like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes that play. Not out of some altruistic love of Christmas or the Super Bowl (which should be renamed Americhristmas) though; it was an equal-parts combination of stark spectator-terror and the nearly five gallons of cheez dip I'd replaced all of my bodily plasma with over the preceding 58 minutes of play. It's all good though, because Jimmy Smith made the play of a lifetime (Yes, there was contact, but at real speed, you could not justify a flag there, and 49er Michael Crabtree was pushing off. Kneeling to pray is called Tebowing, kissing your own guns is Kaepernicking, maybe jumping up and down and screaming your face blue because you didn't get your way could be called JimHarbaughing?) and the black birds topped it with punter Sam Koch's scintillating safety dance as the Ravens pulled out another outlandish victory and I'm sure this giant, engorged heart will prove good for something.
It's hard not to think a little bit about legacy, if the Ravens can turn this into a dynasty and be the first team to repeat as Super Bowl Champions since the Patriots in 2004 and 2005. The Ravens have a lot of questions for next year. Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco, their elite signal caller, is a free agent and looking for a contract in the $100-million neighborhood (that neighborhood, by the way, is called Roland Park Cubed) and with the team hard up against the salary cap, his big new deal could present some problems. Middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and sack specialist Paul Kruger are both free agents after the season and they wont be able to afford both of them. Cornerback Cary Williams, who had a heck of a year taking over for the injured Lardarius Webb is also a free agent and likely won't be back. Anquan Boldin, the powerful veteran wide receiver who carried a huge part of the load in this remarkable championship run, could also be a cap casualty. Throw in the retirement of legend Ray Lewis and the possible departure of all-galaxy safety and goofy spirit-of-the-Ravens Ed Reed, and we could be looking at a very different team next season and they will have a tough time making another run like this one, though to be fair, there may never be another run quite like this one, and that's all speculation for another time.
As the wise prophet Ray Lewis once said, "We already know what yesterday has got for us. It's already gone. Tomorrow, too far away. What about right now?!" And right now, it is a wonderful thing to be a Baltimoron in Baltimore, with the lads in purple holding the Lombardi Trophy. I was just a kid when the Orioles won their last World Series, in '83, and I was a Baltimore ex-pat living among the loggers and baristas in Oregon when the Ravens won their first title and had no idea how truly and joyfully bonkers this town could go. On the Avenue in Hampden after the game, my bulging cardio system fit right in with the throngs mobbing the street between Frazier's and Holy Frijoles. It went nicely with the swollen noggin of the guy I watched drunkenly fall out of the back of a moving pickup truck. I felt totally at home with the throngs scaling the sides of the mob-stopped Krispy Kreme donut truck and the drunks whose chants started with Baltimore, transitioned into World Champions, flew through Ravens, and ended up incongruously at USA!