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Carroll County Times
Carroll County Sports

Bird Brown: How quickly quarterbacks can go from heroes to bums

Jan. 28, 2001, Super Bowl 35 in Tampa, Florida.

A day I’ll remember for the rest of my life and one of my top five days on this earth. In my wildest dreams I never thought I would get the opportunity to attend a Super Bowl, especially not one in which my favorite team would be playing. When the Ravens secured their spot in the AFC championship game against the Raiders with a victory over the Titans, we started the ball rolling.

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We secured plane tickets immediately. Thanks to Uncle Fred and Aunt Janice, who had just settled on their beach house, we had a place to lay our heads for a few minutes over the weekend. With a connection like no other, we had the tickets in the bag.

We knew we had tickets lined up but so many of our friends and fellow Ravens fans from Baltimore and around the country converged on Tampa with visions of scalping tickets or at a minimum enjoying the party that would be the tailgate of the year. Friends were duped out of a ton of money by a scalper but were able to still make it in the game. Others stayed outside of the stadium and watched the game in a local sports bar.

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The best story of the day was our friend who actually sneaked into the Super Bowl and not only got free admittance, but was able to sit in a vacant seat right in front of us for the entire game. Who the heck doesn’t sit in their seat at the Super Bowl?

Had to be a Giants fan.

Amazing what we’ll go through to support our teams.

Twelve years later and they were at it again, but this time the party moved to New Orleans. Many of my friends made the long the trek to Louisiana, either by air or by 21-hour drive, to Bourbon Street and the decadence that awaited them. Beverages were flowing and beads were flying, I’m sure, but the centerpiece of their experience was the Ravens being back in the big game.

I’m jealous I wasn’t able to attend the game in New Orleans but I loved listening to tales of lining up tickets, finding hotel rooms, planning out their routes or just paying the big bucks for a package deal. I watched the game from the confines of my own home — being Wacko for Flacco and celebrating the culmination of Ray Lewis’ unbelievable career. Even though I didn’t make the trip, I was there in spirit when Alicia Keys offered her rendition of our national anthem and for every play, including the blackout, the comeback, and the final deflected pass that secured a second Super Bowl title.

I really thought this was going to be another one of those magical years, but unfortunately they fell short in a tough team loss to a steamrolling Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans.

Who am I kidding? This definitely was one of those magical years, even though it didn’t end up in Miami.

What a ride they gave us, picking up records week after week as if they were on a Pokemon hunt. The season gave a much-needed shot to a community reeling from the ridiculous murder rates in, and continuous negative coverage of, the city we all love.

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I’m always shocked at how quickly rabid sports fans can turn their hero into a bum. Two great examples are right here in Baltimore, this same team that has brought us two Super Bowl championships in 20 years. (and I won’t even bring up the great Johnny U in a Chargers uniform.)

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The first one is the way that most Ravens fans turned on Joe Flacco after his record-setting streak through the playoffs en route to a trip to New Orleans and, later, Walt Disney World. Most of it was about the money he was paid, which now pales in comparison to some of the other, less successful quarterbacks cashing checks in the league.

People forget Steve Bisciotti gambled and didn’t sign him to a contract going in to that season, a gamble they both took together, agreeing to sit back down at the end of the contract season and hammer things out.

Joe Cool puts in one of the greatest streaks in the history of the game, leading his teammates to the Promised Land. I’ve never argued that his post-contract performance never met up with his potential, or that he failed to get back to the dance. But the lack of respect for what he did accomplish from many Ravens fans has always bothered me.

Then, this year Lamar “Lamarvelous” Jackson, leads the league in touchdowns, sets the all-time quarterback rushing record, one many thought would never be broken, wins more regular-single season games than anyone in franchise history, and then loses in the playoffs and everyone thinks he’s terrible.

I mean, come on, seriously?

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Author Terry Mack said it best, “Blessed and happy are those whose sights behold more beauty than ugly, for their minds and hearts shall always befriend peace.”

When it comes to quarterbacks, I say Welcome to Baltimore.


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