Ravens fans await team's return to the roost

By Staff
The Associated Press
Jan. 30, 2001
OWINGS MILLS, Md. For the uninitiated, Baltimore Ravens fans don't caw.''
Spontaneous outbreaks of Woooo, woooo, woooo!'' and Woof, woof, woof!'' filled the air Monday as fans awaited the arrival of their Super Bowl champions outside the team's Owings Mills headquarters and training facility.
As the Ravens' convoy made its way home Monday afternoon, more than 1,000 fans lined the cordoned-off road to give the team a raucous welcome.
And a local radio station blared the ubiquitous sports anthem Who Let The Dogs Out?'' as David Taylor of Kensington rode a scooter carrying a toy dog in his backpack so he could let it out when the team arrived.
Previously a halfhearted Redskins fan,'' Taylor said he converted to the Ravens after the underdog team prevailed against the Tennessee Titans on Jan. 7.
They won me over,'' Taylor said. I had not seen that kind of hitting since the Steel Curtain,'' he said, referring to the Pittsburgh Steelers' 1970s glory days.
Both Jeff Wern, a truck driver from Westminster, and Earl Kelso, a tool and die maker from Hampstead, took the day off from work to support the team. Both were wearing Ravens AFC championship hats and said they planned to update with Super Bowl caps.
It's just an unbelievable year for a football team,'' Kelso said. Who would ever think after everything they went through that they would go all the way?''
Wern said he didn't even bother making up an excuse to miss work.
I told them as soon as they got in the playoffs, 'I'm not coming in Monday' because I knew they were going all the way,'' Wern said.
Nor did Brian Donovan, who kept his young daughters, Nicole and Hannah, out of school to watch the Super Bowl champions arrive home.
I believe that's an acceptable excuse,'' he said with a grin.
Robert and Theresa Shade of Pasadena arrived with their four boys, ages 10 to 15. Robert's brother, John, carried a 20-inch aluminum foil-covered replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Although Monday was a school day, all the kids had fevers this morning when they woke up. It's a mysterious thing,'' Shade said.
It was the Ravens bug,'' 10-year-old Frank said.
Steve Kallens, who runs a local Italian ice stand, said no one was immune.
Who's not a Ravens fan now?'' Kallens asked rhetorically.
The celebration came 156 years to the day after Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Raven'' was first published, in the New York Evening Mirror.
Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley arrived at BWI Airport to welcome the plane before team members loaded onto buses for the trip to headquarters.
I'm so proud of this team,'' O'Malley said. I'm so proud of how hard they fought all year and to go all the way.''
Citing the city's declining crime rate, higher public school test scores and rising real estate values, O'Malley proclaimed the Super Bowl win a harbinger of more good things to come.
It's a great way to show off to the whole country that we're a city that's coming back and it's on the rebound and destined for great things,'' he said.
Predictably, the crowd went wild as the team buses pulled up to the complex, but the undisputed highlight of the day was when team president David Modell and coach Brian Billick walked along the road with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, letting anybody within reaching distance touch it.
This is the people's trophy,'' Modell said.
You've got to let the fans have a chance to touch it,'' Billick added. The fans are the reason I came to Baltimore.''
The gesture also allowed players to exit the complex in their personal vehicles. Some waved to fans as they sped away.
Lou Frick of Reisterstown shook Billick's hand and touched the trophy.
I never thought I would do it in my life, that's for sure,'' Frick said. I know I sound like a little kid, but how often do you get this close in your lifetime? I'm making the most of every minute.''
Frick, a Colts fan who watched the team's 1958 Super Bowl win, said Baltimore still loved and missed the Colts but this is a new team and the Ravens brought everybody back together. This is the neatest thing that's happened in so long. You could not do more for the city.''