Dear Baltimore Ravens,
I want to send you a thank you letter for such an amazing season. Quite honestly, I was planning on writing this letter whether you won or lost last night. The fact that you made it to the Super Bowl was reward enough. But now that you are World Champions for the second time in the franchise’s short history is simply remarkable. Listening to a multitude of players salute the city of Baltimore during the postgame interviews and ceremonies was extremely special and made many of us feel like we are part of your family. I spend every home game in section 513 with my father, brother in law, cousin and godfather. Sundays at M&T are very special to me not only because of the product on the field but because of the people I am with.
What you have done for this this city goes way beyond football. The way that you conducted yourself all season and especially all week leading up to the Super Bowl is what makes many of us prideful Ravens fans. The Super Bowl ring is wonderful. But the lessons you taught us throughout this season and throughout the Ravens franchise existence are what allows us to wear purple with pride. You see, what you have done for us far exceeds the name on the back of the jersey and the rings that will soon be sported on your fingers. You have given the city of Baltimore so much more than a Championship and that is what’s truly special.
I am the very proud father of two young boys. My oldest is six years old and is a die-hard Ravens fan. He knows all the players and watches every game and analyzes each play. As a father, I believe sports can teach a child so many things and I’m not talking at all about Xs and Os. The life lessons that can be learned in sports are immeasurable. As many parents know, our kids don’t always listen to us or quite understand the lessons we try to teach them. But sports gives parents a platform to teach life lessons in another way. Because my son is such a huge Raven fan, I was given a golden opportunity to teach him some important life lessons because of what you accomplished as a franchise on and off the field. Without getting into a lot of detail, my son was born with a rare birth defect. He leads a mostly normal life but has had numerous surgeries with a few more medical procedures in his future. Being tough, positive, and resilient are qualities that he must have to survive. So, when my son idolizes a franchise that possesses those qualities, it makes my job as a parent so much easier. I can tell him to be tough, but it’s a lot easier when he sees Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis battle back from what were supposed to be season- ending injuries. I can tell him to always be positive, but that lesson is much easier taught when Ray Rice converts on 4th and 29. I can tell him to never give up, especially when things aren’t going well, but that lesson is much easier taught when Joe Flacco hits Jacoby Jones with a “Rocky Mountain Rainbow” on the road in Denver to keep the playoff hopes alive. I can tell him that when he gets knocked down, his only option is to get up, be resilient and keep fighting, but that lesson is much easier taught when the defense has a goal line stand late in the fourth quarter to become World Champions. That lesson is much easier taught when he sees the spirit of OJ Brigance. As a parent, you have given me the tools and examples to be a better father to my son. Don’t get me wrong, he thinks the trophies you have won are really cool and he can’t wait to go to the parade on Tuesday. But the life lessons you taught all of us throughout this magical journey are more important than the hardware. Had you lost last night, I have no doubt the entire organization would have handled it with class much like you did last season. This would have offered yet another wonderful teaching moment for my six year old. But by persevering all season and reaching your ultimate goal by winning the Super Bowl, you have shown my son that hard work, dedication, and a positive attitude is rewarding. He knows that you would not have won that cool trophy had you not been tough, resilient, and positive.
Ironically, my wife and I have promised our son that when he is done his next major surgery, we will take him to Disney World because he will have to be tough and resilient. Today, he watched the Disney World commercial where he saw one of his hero’s Joe Flacco shout “I’m going to Disney World!” My son smiled and asked, “Daddy Joe Flacco is going to Disney World because he won the Super Bowl?” I answered, “Yup, and because he was tough, resilient, and never gave up. Just like you!” He got a huge grin on his face, put on his Ravens hat, Ravens Jersey and backpack and we headed to school. I’m not encouraging my son to be football players like you; I’m encouraging him to be like you. In today’s society where there seems to be a knucklehead around every corner, your franchise serves as a positive role model for my son. That means more to me than the ring.
But, I wouldn’t be upset if you keep adding Lombardi Trophies to the Trophy Case!