The first NFL team Baltimore ever had was called the Colts. The Colts played in Baltimore from 1953 through 1983 and had such renowned players as Johnny Unitas and Joe Campanella, and wanted John Elway, but he refused to play for Baltimore Colts owner Bob Irsay. In March of 1984 Irsay moved the Colts to Indianapolis under the cover of a dark winter night. Many Baltimoreans were upset but there had been some ongoing turmoil for some time, so I am told from my older friends and relatives who lived through this event.
Baltimore was without an official NFL team until the Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell announced the desire to move to Baltimore for the 1996 season, partly because Cleveland refused to build a new stadium. An overwhelming majority of those living in Baltimore didn’t want their team to be called the Browns and, because of legal reasons and other issues and negotiations, became a new franchise and an expansion team. Cleveland retains all colors, history, and their name: Browns. In February 1996 Ted Marchibroda was named Baltimore’s head coach, but the team was actually still without a name at that point. This was big news in Baltimore. I was in high school during this time and remember lots of hustle and bustle regarding Baltimore getting an NFL team after so long being without one. There were three names under consideration for our new football team: Marauders, Americans, or Ravens. A Baltimore Sun poll determined most people liked the name Ravens the best.
The name is very fitting for the city of Baltimore, Maryland. Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem The Raven was inspiration for the team’s name. Poe spent a good deal of time in the city and is also buried in Baltimore.
1996: The Baltimore Ravens First Season, and the Early Years of The Ravens
UCLA offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden and University of Miami linebacker Ray Lewis were selected as their first draft choices. Also, the team brought along Anthony Pleasant, Vinny Testaverde, Matt Stover, Eric Turner and Rob Burnett from their Cleveland days.
The Ravens’ first regular season game ever is played fans at Memorial Stadium in front of the largest crowd in Baltimore’s professional sports history, nearly 65,000 eager fans. The first season didn’t go very well for this new team. In 1998 The Baltimore Ravens moved to their new stadium in downtown Baltimore and lost their first game there to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also in 1998 was the first time the Colts (as the Indianapolis Colts) returned to Baltimore since 1983 when the team snuck away in the middle of the night. The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Indianapolis Colts that day.
Brian Billick took over as head coach in 1999. In December of that same year the Ravens recorded their first shutout against Cincinnati, a 22-0 win for Baltimore.
2001: Baltimore Ravens defeat New York Giants at Super Bowl XXXV
In the last quarter of the game, the Ravens defeated the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card round to move on to the AFC Championship, then defeated the Oakland Raiders to advance to the Super Bowl.
In Tampa, Florida, the Baltimore Ravens proceeded to win their first ever Super Bowl in franchise history against the New York Giants, with an impressive score of 34-7. According to Wikipedia, “The Ravens became only the third wild card team (and fourth non-division champion) to win a Super Bowl championship. The interception return for a touchdown, followed by two kick return TDs, marked the quickest time in Super Bowl history that three touchdowns had been scored.”
2003 and Beyond for the Ravens
Wikipedia reports that, due to financial hardships and other obligations, “After the 2003 season, Art Modell officially transferred his remaining 51% ownership to Bisciotti, ending over 40 years of tenure as an NFL franchise owner. Modell still has an office at the Ravens’ headquarters in Owings Mills, Maryland, and acts as a consultant.”
In November 2004, Ed Reed returns an interception for a touch down against their rivals the Cleveland Browns for 106 yards resulting in a new NFL record, which broke the old record of 103 yards.
According to the Baltimore Ravens Official Website, “Over the course of the Ravens history, the team has consistently made a strong Pro Bowl showing sending players to Hawaii each season.”
Brian Billick was dismissed form the team on New Year’s Eve 2007, and John Harbaugh became the new coach. Ray Lewis remains an integral member of the Baltimore Ravens to this day.
Team Uniforms and Stadium
The Ravens play their home games at the M & T Bank Stadium, formerly called the PSINet Stadium, located at 1101 Russell Street near Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Their helmet displays the profile of a raven in a purple shade with the letter “B” in gold and the raven’s head is surrounded by a golden lining or glow and purple stripes down the middle of the helmet running from front to back with one black line running along the center of the helmet. The team’s home color is purple and the away color is white for their jerseys. On either side of the sleeves near the shoulder is a rendition of the seal of Baltimore: a mostly yellow shield with the word Ravens at the top and the letters “B” and “R” nestled within the shield.
Friends and Family who experienced this history firsthand
Baltimore Ravens Official Website
Baltimore Ravens Team Page at NFL.com
Wikipedia: Baltimore Ravens
Wikipedia: History of the Baltimore Ravens
History of Football: Local Baltimore History
~~ Originally published at Factoidz.com ~~