TALK ABOUT BUMPING INTO STARS. AT the Five Thirty-Five VIP Dinner, more than 60 of them -- all champion football players -- were crowded into the banquet room at the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Pikesville, with about the same number of guests. These weren't just any NFL-ers. These were members of the 1958 Baltimore Colts who played in what's known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played," the 1970 Super Bowl V Championship Colts and the 2000 Super Bowl XXXV Ravens.
One glance across the room could net you: Jon Ogden, Harry Swayne, Mike McCrary, Edwin Mulitalo, Femi Ayanbadejo, Jamie Sharper, John Mackey, Bruce Laird, Jim Mutscheller, Lydell Mitchell, Ray Chester, Mike Curtis and Rick Volk.
"Coming into town for an event like this is extra special, because you get disconnected from your teammates and the guys you went through so many great experiences with," said former Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer.
"It feels good. ... A championship is a beautiful thing and it's something of a bond that will be created for the rest of our lives," said Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, as he polished off some tenderloin from the dinner buffet.
There was another reason to feel good, particularly for the party's planners: former Raven Spencer Folau, former Baltimore Colt Tom Matte and former Raven Mike Flynn. Some of the evening's proceeds would be going to two charities: the Armed Forces Foundation, and Fourth & Goal, which provides assistance to retired NFL players in need.
"I'm just so proud of my son," said Folau's mother, Teri Folau. "He and [his wife] Heather put this together. It was a dream of his. ... I'm almost as excited as when they went to the Super Bowl."
A DRINK WITH SAM POLAKOFF
SAM POLAKOFF, 38, MAY BE MANAGing director of Cormony Development, a real estate development firm, but you're more likely to see him at one charity event or another, and not just because he stands head and shoulders above the rest at 6 feet, 5 inches. Community service is important to Polakoff, who serves on the several nonprofit boards, including Baltimore School for the Arts, the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center and Maryland Art Place, where he is board president. Polakoff lives in Homeland with his wife, Carter, development director at Baltimore School for the Arts, and their sons, Nate, 3, and Samson, 1.
With a young family and a business to run, why take on the charity work?
I love what I do professionally and I love what I do in the community. And I have the benefit of having a flexible schedule. As long as I get everything I need to get done done, there's no one telling me how to do it. If I decide to spend all day at [Baltimore School for the Arts] getting ready for [its annual gala] "Expressions" and that forces me to be behind at work, I have no one to answer to but myself.
Do you have any time left over for fun?
Oh, yeah. I'm a diehard, diehard, Ravens and Maryland basketball fan. I tailgate before every Ravens game. I have the best tailgate in Baltimore. We have a full tiki bar and a Winnebago, which I don't actually own. Friends do. We've even been known to have live music at our tailgate.
ONLINE Read more of the conversation with Sam Polakoff at baltimoresun.com / drink
ONLINE Sloane Brown takes you to the party with a calendar of coming events and video reports at baltimoresun.com / scene