Twenty years ago, the Ravens got their name. Here were the other serious and silly options

The Baltimore Americans? Baltimore Marauders? Before the Ravens got their name, both were real possibilities.

On March 29, 1996, 20 years ago today, nearly 1,000 fans waited at the Inner Harbor for owner Art Modell to tell them what we now know: The city's football team would be named the Ravens.

This came as no surprise. Support for the name was widespread. As The Baltimore Sun reported: "Ravens easily outdistanced Americans and Marauders in The Sun's phone-in poll that fans used to choose the team's name. Of the 33,288 voters, 21,108 picked Ravens, 5,597 chose Americans and 5,583 selected Marauders."

The literary allusion of Ravens is obvious — at least we think it's obvious, by now — but even in 1996, there were pro-Ravens supporters who "did not know it was the name of a poem or that Edgar Allan Poe is buried in Baltimore," the Sun reported before the official naming. "Fans liked the tie-in with the other birds in town, the Orioles, and found it easy to visualize a tough, menacing black bird."

Because wondering about what the Ravens could have been named is more enjoyable than researching new-age therapy options for Breshad Perriman's knee, here are the serious and silly names offered for consideration before Baltimore got another winged beast.

Baltimore Colts: Jim Irsay, the son of then-Indianapolis Colts owner Robert Irsay, wanted $25 million to $50 million for the rights. Modell thought something in the range of $5 million was more reasonable. Art Modell's son, David, told the Sun that the throwback name would create goodwill for the team but added: "There already seems to be a lot of goodwill toward the football team and the organization and the coach in Baltimore." 

Baltimore Bombers: The name, trademarked for Baltimore had it won an expansion team in 1993, "honors the B-26, a storied bomber built at the Glenn L. Martin factory near Baltimore from 1940 to 1945," the Sun explained in 1993. "The planes, which had a mixed history of design-related accidents and punishing effectiveness, were used to harass Nazi targets in France prior to the D-Day Allied invasion." But after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and Jaffa Road bus bombings in Israel in 1996, Bombers fell out of contention. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke even reportedly wrote a letter asking that the name not be used. 

Baltimore Marauders: A less explosive and more popular nod to the city's aviation history, Marauders took bronze in the final vote. One focus group thought the name was "hard to spell and visualize," and a week before the vote, one team official said Marauders was "not hot, hot," which is a funny thing to say in 1996.

Baltimore Americans: Named after a locomotive built in Baltimore, the birthplace of the nation's railroad industry, the option gained steam in the weeks of meetings before the vote. Team officials reportedly liked the name — reported the Sun: "Although Americans might not remind the public of a train, David Modell said they could be educated that it was the name of a train run" — but it didn't track well enough to overtake Ravens.

Baltimore Railers: Another train homage. Another choice that went off the rails.

Baltimore Steamers: An evocative name — you can just picture steaming locomotives, or docked steamships, or steamed crabs — but never a hot property.

Baltimore Mustangs: A "polarizing" pick, the name was undone by its appeal to the city's equine-inspired past. One team official said Mustangs lost support among the focus groups "because it followed too closely in the footsteps of previous teams here: the NFL Colts and Canadian Football League Stallions." Voters said neigh.

Baltimore Bulldogs: A pet name of Art Modell, who appreciated the connection to the Canton Bulldogs, a team so dominant that it still holds the NFL record for longest undefeated streak (25 games). But the moniker was too common, too high-school-ish, and team officials reportedly believed the organization needed to distance itself from its "Dawg Pound" and Ohio affiliations.

Baltimore Rhinos: An early favorite for the 1993 expansion team that never came to be, it had initial support from potential owners Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass and Malcolm Glazer. As Sun columnist John Eisenberg wrote in 1996: "Big, meaty, tough, fast[,] a perfect football name." No one else thought so. The Rhinos were quickly extinct.

Baltmore Pickpockets: "The most appropriate name, of course. ... That's what they're doing to us," Eisenberg wrote in the same column.

Baltimore Bacteria: "In recorded history, no other force in nature has done more damage or inspired greater fear," wrote John Parlato, the creative director for W.B. Doner & Co., a Baltimore advertising agency. "If you'd told someone in 14th century Europe that a dragon was on the loose, they'd have taken precautions. If you'd told them the plague was coming, they'd disappear for a decade or two. More than half of the deaths in the Civil War were from disease. The influenza epidemic of 1919 wiped out millions. To put it in terms that sports fans can understand, bacteria has the best record in the predatory world."

Baltimore Baes: OK, this is a millennial joke. But hey, Bays was a top option in 1993.

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