It took only a few days for Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown to learn how starved Baltimore was for the return of the NFL.
Almost a week ago, Brown's girlfriend was in labor at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
"I couldn't even go to the cafeteria unless I had people crowding around me," said Brown, 6 feet 7, 340 pounds. "Even when doctors or nurses came into the room, they would first ask me about the Ravens.
"Here is my girlfriend trying to deliver a baby, and people want to know about the Ravens. I started thinking, 'Hey, let's worry about the Ravens later. Let's get this child here first,' " said Brown, who now has an 8-pound, 9-ounce son, Orlando Jr.
It has been a hectic time for the Ravens, whose two-week minicamp ended yesterday, when light but steady rain forced the cancellation of practice. The Ravens had to get acquainted with new coaches, systems and practice conditions as well as a new city.
The former Cleveland Browns had an opportunity to do Baltimore.
Center Steve Everitt spent last weekend bar-hopping in Fells Point. He is a Fells Point kind of guy. Everitt has long, blond hair down to his shoulders and a tattoo of a sword that stretches from his mid-back to his lower back.
Everitt left practice one day last week wearing cutoff blue jeans and an unbuttoned, long-sleeved flannel shirt. He also had on a bandanna and mountain boots.
"Most people we met were really nice," said Everitt. "Baltimore reminds me a lot of Cleveland. You can tell it's the same mentality here, the same football mentality. I imagine this place is going to go crazy in the fall. They've waited so long for football. It's going to be sweet. It will be something we can feed off of."
Maybe no player hit the streets more than wide receiver Andre Rison. One local radio station aired "Rison Sightings." Rison, as well as several of his teammates, often toured the Inner Harbor and stopped for dinner at Phillips Restaurant.
Rison also frequently stopped in East and West Baltimore.
"People in Baltimore have showed us a whole lot of love," said Rison, who was reared in the 'hood in Flint, Mich. "I always have to stop and yell at the people in the 'hood. I would just stop and start talking. Some people knew me. I've always been a big influence on people in the 'hood, especially kids.
"I don't know why I haven't done a United Way commercial yet," said Rison, laughing.
Rison has planned his own welcome to Baltimore party tonight at the Camden Club at Camden Yards. The public is invited (there is a $10 cover charge) and many of the Ravens will attend, along with Rison's girlfriend, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes of TLC and the Portland Trail Blazers' Rod Strickland. The Bullets' Juwan Howard and Chris Webber have been invited.
"Of course, Andre will be in the house," said Rison.
That's exactly where some of the players stayed, either in their houses or hotel rooms.
Ravens running back Leroy Hoard said he has been in Baltimore for the past 48 days, and swears the only place he has visited is the Country Club Lanes on Pulaski Highway, where he plans to compete in a bowling tournament later this month.
Bowling became almost a daily routine for some of the players.
Hoard's early impressions, based on his stay at the Pikesville Hilton, have not been particularly favorable.
"I knew I was in trouble at the hotel when I held the door for a lady, and she turned her bag away like I was going to take it," Hoard said. "If you're too nice to people, they think something is wrong."
Ravens wide receiver Michael Jackson said his travel has been limited, too, but he expects to see a lot of the city now that camp is over. A lot of fans have asked Jackson for tickets.
"I was on the radio one night, and I promised some tickets to some guy named Ed," said Jackson. "Ed hasn't called me for tickets yet, but I know a lot of Eds will be calling shortly."
A lot of the players and coaches have spent evenings eating at C-J's or Captain Harvey's restaurants, in Owings Mills near the team complex. The specialties are seafood.
"Andre is always ordering crabs and shrimp," said Chris Frazee, a manager at C-J's. "Orlando Brown comes in here, and his thigh is as big as my waist. We try to keep people away from them so they don't get bothered. It's been great for business."
Tight end Brian Kinchen, who went to one Indians game during five years in Cleveland, attended an Orioles game last week. He was just one of several players who spent evenings looking for apartments and houses. A popular area has been Finksburg and Greenspring Valley.
"You've got to be careful when you go out looking for a place, because once they find out you're a football player, the rent or the cost goes way up," said one player.
Defensive tackle Larry Webster has been a team guide. Webster was a standout at the University of Maryland and lives in Elkton.
"I've showed guys a couple of places here and there, seafood restaurants, stuff like that, but I've mostly been taking care of business," said Webster.
"My size is a dead giveaway. . . . This place is going to be wild. People are glad we're here. You can feel it anywhere you go."
Coach Ted Marchibroda said he was happy with the Ravens' accomplishments on the field. Despite rumors questioning quarterback Vinny Testaverde's decision making, Marchibroda said he was impressed with Testaverde's arm strength and ability to read defenses.
The camp reinforced Marchibroda's thoughts that the interior lines will be the main strengths of this team and that linebacking is the major weakness. Most of all, though, Marchibroda said he liked his team's work ethic.
The team got in about 80 percent of its playbook, and even worked on the no-huddle and shotgun offenses.
"The work ethic was there, and so was the intensity," said Marchibroda. "The guys were always attentive and willing to work. I was pleased."
Kinchen said: "It was a chance for us to get to know Ted and some of the other coaches. Ted is a real smart man and has his way of doing things. For the first time, camp wasn't the drudgery it has been in the past, those long workouts. We came out, worked hard and had efficient practices. . . . We're definitely ahead of last year's pace."
Pub Date: 5/10/96