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Kick it off

Boy, are we ready for some football. The kickoff of the Baltimore Ravens season next Monday night against the Jets is especially welcome after weathering a brutal summer. In the past months, the temperatures soared, the housing market went south, and a customary source of solace, rooting for the Orioles, had a very long rough patch.

Now the O's, like the national economy, appear to be on the distant road to recovery. The Ravens, however, are widely expected to offer immediate joy. Many predictions have them bettering last year's run into the second round of the playoffs, where they lost to the much-hated Colts. This year's team has an abundance of quarterbacks, a promising squadron of linebackers, reinforced lines and a solid kicking game. The Ravens are, in short, contenders, and the town is energized.

There is also a pleasing community rhythm to the football season. Tailgaters arrive early for home games, sending the sweet perfume of barbecue into the South Baltimore air. Throngs jam sold-out M&T Bank Stadium, and television viewers throughout the region tune in to revel in the spectacle that is pro football. After the game, there are windy week-long replays in bars, restaurants and radio shows of the team's tactics. It is all the more compelling when the home team is victorious, and this year in Baltimore that looks likely.

Fate and a difficult schedule — the Ravens first two games are against tough opponents in New York and Cincinnati — may ultimately dim these early feelings of good fortune. But for right now, we say let the pigskins fly and the good times roll.

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