The trash-talking started early yesterday when Roger Collette made his presence known at the Pine Ridge Golf Course in Baltimore County, driving laps around the parking lot in his truck, its Miami Dolphins flag flapping. He met his buddy John Winters, a Ravens fan, for a 7 a.m. round before they headed for the main event: watching the Ravens-Dolphins playoff game.
"After the game, one of us will be getting text messages and the other guy will be turning off his phone," Winters, an elevator mechanic from Red Lion, Pa., said as he laughed at kickoff. The pair, along with Winters' 16-year-old son, Nick, snagged a prime table at Padonia Station in Cockeysville, a bar packed with fans mostly dressed like Winters in purple jerseys.
Collette, with his Dolphins hat, teal green Miami gloves and team flag wrapped around his shoulders like a shawl, was more of an oddity.
As was clear on Padonia Road, the playoffs were just the morale booster needed for these tough economic times, just the elixir to ease the stress of recession and unemployment fears and housing woes. And looking around the bar, with the beer flowing and food flying out of the kitchen, the question had to be: What recession?
"Everyone's out and happy, focusing on football and not the loss of money, if you will," said Erica Housey, who works for an advertising agency.
There was a lot to like yesterday, with the Ravens - who a season ago won just five games - dominating on the field, the defense grabbing four Chad Pennington interceptions.
Collette, who lives in Sykesville, was starting to run out of reasons to cheer as Baltimore pulled away, making it clear which team would play another day.
"We've got plenty of room for you on the Ravens bandwagon," teased bartender Mike Trageser as he passed by.
Collette's wife had a similar suggestion a year ago when Miami went 1-15, its single victory coming against the Ravens. She suggested he spare himself the agony and get himself a new team.
He wasn't ready to go that far, but when Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco put the icing on the victory by running in the team's final score, even Collette found himself grudgingly clapping.
"This reminds me of 2000" - the year the Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl, Winters said. "I'm telling ya."