I’m sure that I’m not the only one, but I am sick and tired of watching the Patriots run through the NFL with ease and kick aside Father Time like he’s some irrelevant obstacle that can barely impede their dominance. Man, I really don’t like these guys. But going to school in Boston, where most of my friends support the evil empire, I’ve come to notice something that I find incredibly interesting that makes me really happy to be a Ravens and Orioles fan. Though this isn’t the case with everyone, I feel that the majority of Baltimore sports fans have a passion for their team that New England fans don’t. Allow me to explain.
When the Dannell Ellerbe tackled Ted Ginn, Jr. to complete the Ravens’ Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers back in 2012, my 16 year-old self could barely contain his excitement. I was on the edge of my seat for the whole game, I was yelling at the TV despite my entire extended family being in the room with me, and I couldn’t sleep for the next few nights. I walked into school the next day absolutely on top of the world, happy out of my mind and incredibly proud of my favorite team.
As the final minutes and seconds were ticking away in Atlanta on Sunday evening, my friends – some of which had left the room to talk about other things – didn’t show much excitement at all. What was most astounding to me was their reaction when Greg Zuerlein missed the kick that all-but-officially ended the contest. Instead of jumping up out of their seat and rejoicing, they smiled and clapped. It was just another W in the books for their “beloved” Patriots.
Okay, I understand that some fans may not have the same level of interest as I do, but to add a little context to the characters that were in this room with me, I should say that I asked them before kickoff if they loved the Pats. One shook his head and said “Oh, man, you have no idea. I watch every game.” The other agreed, saying “I have no idea what I’m going to do if they lose.” From their responses, you might think that they’d join the riots out in downtown Boston after the game. Not them, they went to bed. In fact, I talked with a real die-hard Pats fan that I know from class, and he said that those riots were mostly consisting of drunk kids from other cities, just finding an excuse to run amok through Boston on a Sunday night. The fact of the matter is that Patriots fans are so numb to winning that they simply cannot enjoy it as much as they should. Their perspective has been tainted by the overwhelming success of their team.
So how does this relate to me loving the fact that I’m a Ravens fan? Well, I really believe that the heartbreaks I’ve endured – the Billy Cundiff wide right moments, the field goal fiestas in 2006, the Antonio Brown immaculate extensions, the 4th and 13s on New Year’s Eve – have made me absolutely love my team and enjoy winning that much more. I do recognize that the Ravens have even been far more successful than many other teams in the NFL (I think of my friend, a Falcons fan, who stood in the corner of my freshman year dorm room fighting back tears when James White stretched the ball over to complete the miraculous 28-3 comeback win in 2017), so I think there’s no better way to think about this than by switching sports and imagining an Orioles World Series win.
I don’t care where I am when the Baltimore Orioles next win the World Series, it could be Annapolis, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Waxahachie, Texas, or Boston this coming October (LOL). No matter where I’m living, you can bet that I’ll be in Baltimore for that World Series parade when the Orioles have hoisted the trophy for the first time since 1983. Most likely, I will be a grown-ass man in tears, donning my Nick Markakis jersey that’s autographed by Luke Scott, and wailing “Orioles Magic” as the floats pass. That’s because I endured decades of suffering and will feel that championship like nothing else.
For a while, at least, I don’t know that New England will be able to do the same.