I had handled it much better than I ever did in the past.
Unlike the last three seasons, I wasn’t on hand to see the Baltimore Ravens’ season come to an end last Sunday in the AFC Championship Game. Instead of making the trip to Foxborough, I stayed in studio at 1550 Hart Rd. in Towson for “The Nasty Purple Pregame Show” and “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show.” I watched the game only with my producer Ryan Chell and I IMMEDIATELY hit the airwaves after Billy Cundiff’s kick sailed wide-not allowing me much time to stew over the dramatic end.
After fighting with a caller who labeled quarterback Joe Flacco as “a bum” following the crushing loss to the New England Patriots, I genuinely felt as though I had moved on. It only took about 30 minutes. No eight hour drive home with other miserable Ravens fans for me, just a 25 minute drive home to Monkton where playing with my dog quickly made me feel better about a tough loss.
On Sunday afternoon the WNST crew (Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, Luke Jones and myself) touched down in Indianapolis for week-long coverage of Super Bowl XLVI festivities at Radio Row. We do it every year, no matter when/where the Ravens’ season comes to a close. Immediately upon landing at Indianapolis International Airport, we were greeted by vendors selling Eli Manning and Tom Brady t-shirts. Everywhere we turned in Indy for the first 12 hours was remarkably similar.
New York Giants stuff here. New England Patriots stuff there. Live NFL Network video of Bill Belichick getting off the plane. Quotes filling up my GMail inbox from Tom Brady and Jerod Mayo as transcribed by the National Football League staff here on site. A replay of Super Bowl XLII following Australian Open coverage on ESPN2.
It all hit me like a ton of bricks. This was SO close to being the Ravens. Perhaps a Cundiff kick, perhaps a Lee Evans catch, perhaps a John Harbaugh timeout, perhaps Joe Flacco not throwing an interception to Brandon Spikes.
We could have gotten off the plane in Indy and been greeted by Ray Lewis t-shirts instead of seeing Alex Flanagan try to get Lewis to change his mind about retirement on the sideline during NBC’s coverage of the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. We could have been covering the first media gathering of the week for the AFC champs instead of sitting in the hot tub at the J.W. Marriott or celebrating Forrester’s birthday at Buca di Beppo. (Both of these things were nice…but we’d rather not be there.)
It wasn’t as painful to arrive for Super Bowl coverage the last couple of years as there was really no argument that the Ravens may have been the best team in the AFC. Two years ago they were clobbered by the Colts here at LucasOil Stadium. Last year there was the feeling they let one go against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, but at least the loss didn’t come with a Super Bowl trip on the line.
This time there was a REAL feeling that we should be spending Media Day tomorrow chatting up Terrell Suggs instead of trying to track down Matt Birk for five minutes later in the week when he comes to promote the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
It wasn’t the only wound re-opened however.
As you can read about in Monday’s Indianapolis Star, there’s already a bit of a “friendly” back and forth going on between us and some of the folks in “The Friendly Heart of the Midwest.” While most of our comments have been made in jest, there is no doubt that seeing horseshoes everywhere I look and staring at a sign for the “Jim Irsay Collection” at the Indiana State Museum across the street have left a bad taste in my mouth.
The team my father fell in love with is now the reason why a city hundreds of miles from Charm City is experiencing a financial boon. The likes of Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore and Art Donovan left sweat and blood on the field at Memorial Stadium, the value of which has allowed governor Mitch Daniels to make millions of dollars-which will in no way benefit the city of Baltimore.
We don’t REALLY want the Colts back in Baltimore as I joked with the Indy Star reporter. We want an entire civic injustice reversed. We know it’s impossible.
The wounds are fully re-opened here. We’ll make it through (covering a Super Bowl in Indianapolis is STILL better than having to cover the Baltimore Orioles), but there will be a number of times this week where I’ll look over and say “damn.”