A team and their city stood together at the rainy Inner Harbor today in a damp, tightly-packed civic huddle, girding for the Baltimore Ravens’s biggest game since 2000, when they clobbered the New York Giants in Superbowl XXXV.
Never mind the politicians. (Gov. Martin O’Malley and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake wisely kept it short. The Mayor’s attempt to list the names of fellow elected officials was greeted by boo’s and the singing of the “Seven Nation Army.”)
This was between the Ravens and the thousands of purple-clad fans (some of them also lightly beer-scented today), come to send them off to New Orleans for Superbowl XLVII with the best karma they could.
Linebacker Ray Lewis’ remarks were also short but, of course, powerful.
“There is no Ravens without you guys. We love you, we love you, we love you,” Lewis said, standing on the stage with coach John Harbaugh and fellow players, including Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Ray Rice. Many players were snapping pictures of the crowd, which was, of course, snapping pictures of them.
“We’re going to give you everything that we’ve got,” Lewis said, eliciting a roar.
Harbaugh asked for cheers from any fans going to New Orleans (“We want to hear you loud!”) and promised to those staying home that “you’re in our hearts. You will be at the Superdome.”
The fans were then asked to do like the players do before they break their huddles and put their hands on the shoulder of the nearest member of Ravens Nation and let Ed Reed led them in prayer. Many actually did it.
The benediction Reed belted out turned out also to be a theme-of-the-moment: Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets to Paradise.” (He sang it in the locker room last week after they beat the New England Patriots.) The crowd sang along and, as fireworks blasted, a tugboat tooted and purple and white confetti rained down on the crowd, the team headed off to the buses, the airport and their big game in The Big Easy.
“DESTINY” was a giant-sized sign in the crowd, a poster pasted in office building windows and, for many, a feeling in the air.