An interesting note from ‘The Best Game Ever’

May 24, 2008 | Glenn Clark

Crabs and Beer will be back. Maybe as early as tomorrow morning.
“The Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 and became the Ravens, but nobody who grew up in the city during the golden era of Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry, of Gino Marchetti and Artie Donovan, roots for it without mixed feelings.”
That excerpt is taken from the OUTSTANDING new book The Best Game Ever by Mark Bowden (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2008). I believe Mark was on with Rob Long recently; and he even made a call to us out here in Arizona last Saturday to promote the book. I just finished reading the book today as I am getting ready for my Arena Football responsibilities (I should probably be studying).
The excerpt is near the end of the book, one I was determined to finish today as I have been so entrenched since I began reading it. I have enjoyed the book so much that while reading, I have mostly been moving at a feverish pitch, not wanting to delay getting to the moment when Alan Ameche plunges into the end zone. But when I read this particular excerpt, my pace not just slowed, it actually went in reverse. After reading again, it went back into reverse. I probably read the excerpt five times before moving on.
The excerpt actually spans pages 221-222 if you’d like to find it.
I don’t want to say too much about this issue because inevitably there will be someone who knows better than I do whether there is great truth to this. I wasn’t born until 1983, so I am NOT qualified to dispute what Mark Bowden says.
However, I would like to ask you to add your own ideas of whether Mark Bowden is being fair with this statement.
What Mark Bowden said-in essence-is that Baltimore Colts fans of that era have mixed feelings rooting for the Ravens. What he did NOT say is that Baltimore Colts fans struggle to this day with the idea of rooting against the Colts.
I have no issue with the idea that Colts fans struggle with rooting against the Colts. I was barely able to comprehend the game of football the first time my father told me he couldn’t root against the helmets. I have been told the same thing by multiple friends, family members, radio listeners, blog readers, etc. since that time.
But I never got the feeling that Colts fans struggled with rooting for the Ravens at any point. Certainly many Colts players themselves had absolutely no problems rooting openly for the Ravens, as they felt they played for the city, not for the helmets.
But I do not want to say with defiance that Mark Bowden is wrong here. Again, I am not in the position to make that statement. I want you the readers/listeners to tell me if he’s wrong or not. I would say that I lean towards the idea that he may have sensationalized the feelings of Baltimore Colts fans.
Here’s your chance to tell me how you feel when you read that statement. I would like to think that for the most part-Colts fans have embraced the Ravens organization, and root for them without hesitation……..although many still find themselves unable to root against the Colts.
It is a large distinction. The way Bowden writes it, a picture is painted that there might be some hostility (or “mixed feelings”) towards the Ravens by Colts fans; which I just can’t help but feel might be inaccurate. I THINK the mixed feelings are towards those horse shoes, not the Ravens.
But you tell me. And either way, please pick up the book. I feel as though I learned more this time than I have with other books I’ve read regarding the ’58 title game.