HOW CAN pro football fans who remember details of a game 40 years ago have such short memories otherwise?
Wasn't it just a few years ago that Baltimore pined for a team and a Camden Yards-quality football stadium for it to play in? Aren't Sundays more entertaining now that the National Football League has returned? Isn't downtown more vibrant on game days?
No, the Ravens didn't make the playoffs their first three seasons. But teams down today may be up tomorrow. Organizations with storied pasts such as football's Green Bay Packers and baseball's New York Yankees are winning again, but only after long stretches of mediocrity.
The Ravens' decision not to renew coach Ted Marchibroda's contract -- which is different from being fired -- was hardly the end of the world, even his, judging from his dignified departure.
The new year will bring a new coach, some new players, perhaps a winner. All are often short term in professional sports nowadays. The more enduring signs of success are those purple parkas and the jerseys with that glaring bird on the sleeve seen around town. At last, Baltimoreans can cheer for a team they consider their own.
Winning is, indeed, important. But with due respect to the football sage Vince Lombardi, it's not the only thing.
Pub date: 12/30/98