Because of its central location in the state, sometimes the city of Laurel is considered a border town.

While that isn't necessarily true for everything, the term perfectly describes the city's population of sports fans, especially when it comes to NFL football.


Approximately a half-hour drive from both local team's home fan bases, the city is made up of a mix of supporters of the Super Bowl-bound Baltimore Ravens and the Washington Redskins, who play their home games in Prince George's County.

"Laurel is probably split. It's nothing scientific; it's what you see when you are out at restaurants or out in the community or talking to people," said Mayor Craig Moe, a lifelong Redskins fan, sitting inside the Laurel Municipal Center last week.

However, with the Ravens less than one week from playing the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII, even the city's Redskins fans can't help but show a little purple pride.

Well, at least the ones working in city hall; thanks in large part to die-hard Ravens fan Lou Ann Crook.

"There are definitely more Redskins fans than Ravens fans, but we've been able to pick up more Ravens fans or convert them as the case may be," said Crook, who works as the mayor's executive assistance and has been a Ravens season ticket holder since 2003.

Even Moe, who on Friday wore a purple Ravens shirt given to him by Crook, couldn't help but agree that Crook has helped moved the dial in support of the Ravens.

"Yeah, she's got a lot of them converted now," Moe said.

Wearing her purple and white Joe Flacco jersey, Crook, a Laurel native, says purple has become part of her everyday wardrobe, even when it's not football season.

"People always laugh because they always know I'm going to be wearing purple," said Crook.

While purple is certainly Crook's color, she is more than willing to spread it throughout the building, even as far as to the mayor.

"I buy him something purple every year for Christmas," Crook said. "He doesn't always wear it, but I'm trying."

Howard County Council split on game plans

While purple fever has spread far and wide in neighboring Howard County, where government offices glow in purple haze when lit up at night, members of the Howard County Council aren't all on the same bandwagon. One council member will be traveling to New Orleans this weekend to attend Sunday's Super Bowl, and another doesn't even plan to watch.

County Council member Greg Fox and his son will be leaving BWI-Marshall Airport on Friday, flying to New Orleans for what Fox says will probably be his "first and only" Super Bowl trip.


Fox predicts he'll be returning to Baltimore in a good mood, because he thinks the Ravens will win by seven points.

As Fox is enjoying the game at the Superdome, council member Mary Kay Sigaty says she will probably be reading a book.

Sigaty said she is just "not a football fan" and even when she attends a Super Bowl party, she can be found sitting away from the TV talking with others who also don't want to watch the game.

Council member Calvin Ball could be the most superstitious of the council members.

Since the Ravens' first playoff game against the Colts three weeks ago, Ball said he and a group of family and friends have gathered to watch the game at his house.

They wear the same jerseys, without washing it the week before.

They sit in the same spot.

They've even taken a celebratory photo afterward, striking the same pose.

Although Ball wants to maintain the same ritual to help ensure that the Ravens are successful, he said he would not turn away newcomers on Sunday. They just better not jinx the team.

Ball is predicting a 10-point win for the Ravens.

While fans still were celebrating the 28-13 victory over the Patriots on Monday, Jan. 21, Nightmare Graphics, in Columbia, was busy making T-shirts.

For the Super Bowl, the company is printing the words "Festivus Maximus" across the front, a tribute to a phrase coined by former head coach Brian Billick before the Ravens beat the Giants in the 2001 Super Bowl. It also says "Ray's Last Ride."

Sam Andelman, President of Nightmare Graphics, said he and his crews have been printing new shirts since the first playoff victory against the Indianapolis Colts.

"I think you'll see us back here two weeks from today printing shirts again," Andelman said.

'You've got to believe'

While Crook has helped spread Ravens fever at the Laurel Municipal Center, she's had help from a coalition of other passionate Ravens fans scattered throughout the building.

"The camaraderie is really neat, it's a great group of fans," said Danny Miller, a facility manager for the city.

On a purple Friday, Miller, also a Ravens season ticketholder, can normally be seen wearing his black and purple Ray Lewis jersey. However, on this special pre-Super Bowl purple Friday on Jan. 25, Miller brought some extra Ravens gear; a purple flag inscribed with the words "You're in Ravens Country."

"It's normally on my balcony, but I decided to bring it in today," said Miller.

While Miller realizes the rarity of the Ravens playing in the Super Bowl, he'll tell you that he always believed that they could make it.

"I thought definitely this could be a Super Bowl team," Miller said. "This season has had its ups and downs, but they always say the team that wins the Super Bowl is the one getting hot, and that's the Ravens right now."

Echoing Miller is Ravens fan and city Historic District coordinator Sunny Pritchard.

"I think they are going to win because everyone on the team wants it," Pritchard said.

Pritchard, an employee of the city for eight years, said she was never a Redskins or Baltimore Colts fan, but once the Ravens came to town, she was instantly hooked.

"You don't always click with a team, but when you do, you know it's there," Pritchard said.

For Pritchard, there is something about the Ravens that makes her feel connected.

"When you are a true fan, you live and breathe it," Pritchard said. "There's something about it that gets in your blood. I get nervous, I get sick to the stomach before the game like I'm playing the game. It's ridiculous."

While Pritchard may feel ridiculous, there is nothing ridiculous about her confidence in her team; at least not to Crook.

"I really thought this year would be our year," said Crook. "You've got to believe, you've got to believe."

Blair Ames contributed to this story.