To understand how very conflicted Washington is about rooting for Baltimore, consider what happened to one of its biggest football fans when she dared suggest that Redskins supporters offer the Ravens a congratulatory word.
The superfan in question dresses as a caped crusader and goes by the superhero name RG3 Woman, in honor of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. After Baltimore trounced the Patriots in the AFC championship game Sunday, she tweeted: "DC supports Baltimore! Let's go Ravens #semihometeam."
The reaction was swift, sure and pretty darn harsh. Dozens upon dozens of her followers quickly labeled her a traitor and a turncoat — and this is a woman who loves the Redskins so much she wears a gold jumpsuit in public.
So as Baltimore heads to the Super Bowl, Redskins fans are faced with this not quite Sophie's choice: Do they support the city just a few miles up the Interstate? Or do they sit home chewing sour — and probably purple — grapes? While plenty of Washington fans have happily hopped onto the Ravens bandwagon, others are having a harder time.
"It's a little bit of a moral dilemma," says Ryan Morrison, a Frederick sales executive who's been a Redskins fan "forever." "There's a lot of bitterness there. A little jealously, I'm sure, on D.C.'s part."
But Morrison, who was born in Randallstown and still has family there, will be cheering the Ravens come Sunday, happy to get in on what will surely be a party in Baltimore.
"Every single Ravens fan is just a nut right now," he says. "I will definitely be in Federal Hill. I'm going to have my Redskins shirt on underneath, but on top I'll probably be wearing an Ed Reed jersey."
Yet you'll never catch Lizz Robbins in Ravens colors — even if she is grudgingly rooting for Baltimore.
"I'm going to pick the Ravens to win. I want them to win," says the 38-year-old IT project manager and sports blogger, who lives in Montgomery County and has cheered for the Redskins since her father took her to her first game in 1983. "But you're not going to see me in the paint and the colors."
Robbins, who didn't realize she wore purple and black to work Tuesday until it was too late, says there's an important distinction between offering the Ravens lukewarm support during the Super Bowl and jumping with two feet onto the late-season fan bus. And she's sorry to say she's seen too many of her neighbors do just that.
"I was at Giant this weekend, and before it's all the Redskins stuff. I walk in and I thought I was in Baltimore," she says, her voice rising. "Ravens jerseys on the cashiers. Ravens balloons. Ravens cupcakes. In Montgomery County! I was like, 'Are you kidding me?'
"Where is the loyalty?"
At 31, David Huzzard has experienced the thrill of a Redskins Super Bowl victory. He remembers the wild celebration, the reveling and euphoria. When the Baltimore claimed a title in 2001, he was disgusted to witness Virginians trying to do the same thing.
"I remember seeing people around me being very happy and celebrating as if the Redskins had won," he says. "It wasn't the same to me."
When the Ravens face off against San Francisco in New Orleans, the Fairfax, Va., pet sitter jokes that beleaguered Washington fans should know appropriate post-season behavior by now.
"As a Redskins fan, I'm used to picking teams to mildly root for in the playoffs," he says. "You just sort of root for a good game."
Harder-core Redskins fan Rick Harrison would be happier with no Baltimore love whatsoever. Ravens fans, he says, are too annoying already, and he fears what would happen if their heads got any bigger. He likes being able to tout the Redskins' three Super Bowl victories to the Ravens' one. New Orleans has the power to ruin that.
"When you live and work with [Ravens] fans, they love your failure and let you know it," he says. "It's like a sibling rivalry, if you will. … So it would be nice to see them lose."
Danny Rouhier, a lifelong Washingtonian, has heard it all as host of the sports talk show "Holden & Danny" on 106.7 FM The Fan. From his perspective, Redskins fans are of two minds at this point when it comes to Baltimore: They either resent the Ravens for being so close and having the success D.C. has missed out on, or they're sampling a taste of purple passion.
"I don't think there's one mission statement for Redskins fans on how to behave," said Rouhier, who's pulling now for the Ravens. "I just think at the end of the day, Redskins fans wish their team was in the game."
Phillip Reynolds is a glass-half-full sort of Skins fan. The therapist, who's 31 and lives in Germantown, figures that as a taxpayer he's already helped build M&T; Bank Stadium, so he might as well support the team. He's got a pretty good second reason in his back pocket.
"The Redskins already beat them, the Ravens, this year, so it looks good on us for them to win," he says, laughing. "We get to say, 'We beat the Super Bowl champions.'"