The next 24 hours are yet another example of how great it is to have the NFL in Baltimore. Every watercooler and chat room and bar conversation in the city is buzzing with talk of Ravens vs. Steelers. There are Ravens hats and jackets and flags out all over the place. Indeed, as the holiday music plays, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
The anticipation, the buildup has truly been a lot of fun for anyone who loves Baltimore. It’s the most significant regular season game that’s been played in Baltimore since the Toni Linhart fog game against the Dolphins on 33rd Street.
It’s the biggest game of the NFL weekend and the rivalry is starting to get some true national heat for the first time since Baltimore got back into the league in 1996. We’ve ALWAYS hated the Steelers, but now they kinda hate us as much. It’s a legit “Hatfields” and “McCoys”! And at 4:15, it’s all on the line. The season, in some ways, comes down to the next 60 minutes of football against the team we all love to hate! It’s almost perfect!
So, you know what happens if we win? A piece of first place, a short work week and another huge Saturday night nationally televised game against Terrell Owens and the Cowboys in Dallas. And the families and friends and co-workers and Facebook and Twitter all talk of playoffs and home games and byes. The Ravens become the primary theme of the Christmas season of 2008. My purple Santa hat will come back out as a daily reminder of how much fun it is to have the Ravens in Baltimore.
But my favorite part happens when they replace every light bulb in the city with the purple gels. And the city starts to glow an odd shade of purple. It’s really kind of amazing when you think about, the spirit our city gets for this football team. (BTW: We are EXTENDING the deadline for the Miller Lite Purple Palace contest through Dec. 21st to allow everyone to play. As you can see here, we’re getting some awesome pics and videos! Keep them coming and let us know if someone you know has a purple palace worthy of entry.)
With a victory on Sunday afternoon against the Steelers, this city will literally become a giant purple sea of enthusiasm.
It’s been a rough year financially for virtually everyone I know. Business throughout the city is off. Everyone I talk to who owns a business has felt the impact. Business at our radio station is off. Business at EVERY radio station is off. The Baltimore Sun’s parent company filed for bankruptcy last week. Sometimes just putting on the television in the mornings is depressing. I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t been affected in some way by the international economy collapse but one thing that can make times at least a little better — here in Baltimore anyway — is having this football team win and watching the community come together and cheer a little. It’s like a civic tonic.
Do you remember the Colts game from 100 weeks ago? All of the same emotions that we’ve seen this week – minus the Irsay talk – were present. The buildup, the constant chatter and “can’t wait until Sunday” feeling we’ve all had this week. A win today would kind of blow the roof off of the city and we could embrace the 2008 Ravens as true “contenders” to win a Super Bowl.
A win over the Steelers and the real fun of the holidays and Festivus begins in Baltimore. A loss, and well…well, it would be one helluva hangover if this goes the wrong way. (I don’t even want to think about it. I’m still shaking off the Colts loss and it’s been two years!)
I predict a Ravens victory, 27-13. They must win. The city needs it.
Let the games begin…