For Ravens fans and King admirers, Sunday offers tough call

Sometimes, the game of life gets in the way of the game.

You know, THE GAME.

Sunday is one of those moments.

The Ravens host the Houston Texans Sunday, Jan. 15 at 1 p.m. in an AFC divisional playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium. It's the first time Baltimore has hosted a playoff game since 2007 and anything Ravens related is news, or at least commercialized. Fans are excited.

The earth won't stop spinning Sunday afternoon, it will just seem that way. Crime goes down, traffic vanishes and supermarkets become wastelands.

It's all about THE GAME.

But what if the NFL forgot to check your schedule before assigning the Ravens the 1 p.m. time slot?

What if something planned months ago is scheduled the same afternoon. Right in the middle of THE GAME?

A day before our nation celebrates the life of Martin Luther King Jr., the Howard County Office of Human Rights will hold its 27th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commemorative Celebration at Howard Community College. The reception starts in the second quarter (2 p.m.) and the program begins in the third quarter (3 p.m.).

Calvin Ball, a Columbia Democrat on the Howard County Council, is a Ravens' fan, but will not be in front of a television.

"I plan on attending the event because Dr. King is a role model of mine and I think his example is invaluable for current and emerging leaders," he said.

But he is a sports fan, and, accordingly, has a game plan.

"As a committed Ravens' fan in a house of Ravens' fans, I will be (recording) the game and getting updates of the big plays from my wife, who is an even bigger Ravens' fan than me," he said.

This is not the first time a Ravens' playoff game has landed on the afternoon of the commemorative celebration.

A few years back, the guest speaker gave updates.

"He would interrupt his speech to give the score of the game," Dr. C. Vernon Gray said.

Gray, who served 20 years on the County Council, is in his fifth year as the county's Human Rights Administrator.

He's also a sports guy and a big fan of the Ravens.

"I used to have season tickets," said Gray, a quarterback for his high school in Calvert County. "But then they got too expensive."

He has a football autographed by all the members of the 2000 Super Bowl champions, many of them he got himself.

And in a perfect world, "I would be watching the game on the 15th," he said.

So would Del. Guy Guzzone, a Columbia Democrat, who said he attends the King celebration every year. "As leaders of the community, we need to be there. It's important," he said.

However, he added: "I'm open to a text with the score."

Politicians face scheduling conflicts more than their constituents.

Grey knew this was a possibility.

"I was hoping it would be at 4:30 p.m. so that people could see most of the game. But I'm sure people will be rooting the Ravens from their seats at the program."

Gray also doesn't believe it will hurt attendance. "They're Ravens' fans, but they know this program is extremely important, so they'll come."

The theme at this year's celebration at the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center-Smith Theater is "Renewing the Dream." The guest speaker will be Jeff Johnson, an MSNBC contributor and the chief White House correspondent for, an online news organization that focuses its coverage toward a black audience.

No one knows if he will update the 200 to 300 expected to attend with a score.

And if you can't decide what path to take — to watch the game on your spectacularly large flat-screen television or immerse yourself in reflection at HCC — Gray has a suggestion.

"I would tell them to come and to have full confidence that the Ravens will play again next week," he said. "We know they're going win. Their real season will start the next week."

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