An estimated 18,000 fans converged on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor yesterday afternoon to send off the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl. Fans started lining up as early as 6:00am yesterday morning to catch a glimpse of the Ravens before they departed for New Orleans. The event started at 11:00am and the Ravens were expected to arrive at 12:30 pm, but traffic was brutal yesterday (believe me…it was BAD) and even with a police escort, they arrived about twenty minutes late.
The Ravens arrived to the rally on four buses. They parked on Pratt Street and one-by-one the players and staff made their way from the bus, walked down a gated path, through a lighted Ravens archway, and down to the Amphitheater stage. As they approached the stage, they were introduced by WBAL Sports Director, and Ravens Game-day announcer, Gerry Sandusky.
Many of the players had their camcorders, cameras, and phones with them and were taking as many pictures of the crowd, as the crowd was taking of them. Ray Rice was all smiles as he shook hands, gave high-fives, and made his way through the crowd. Rice stood at the very front of the stage and to the left of the podium. He had has camcorder with him and took a panoramic shot from the Pratt Street Pavilion to the Light Street Pavilion and back again. He seemed to really enjoy the moment as he was the most active in taking shots of the crowd.
Ray Lewis was the first player called to the podium yesterday. He only talked for a few moments, but he said the Ravens would “bring the Championship ring back to Baltimore where it belongs”. He was very calm and not as emotional as he was 12 years ago. Back in 2001, before leaving for Super Bowl 35, Baltimore held a similar rally at the very same spot (I was there as well). On that day, before leaving the stage and boarding the team bus, Ray Lewis was asked to say a few words. He gave a short speech, but the then 25 year old Lewis, in a very brash and boastful manner, said “We’re gonna win the Super Bowl baby!”….I still remember those words to this day… I was hoping for something similar, and in his own way…Ray did say the team was going to do it, but he did so, in a more subdued manner this time around.
After Lewis spoke, John Harbaugh took to the stand and said “wow, this is great.” He thanked the fans for “coming out and supporting the team” and said that “the fans, who couldn’t attend the game, would be in the Super Dome in spirit”. The crowd erupted with a roar. Ed Reed took to the mic, and started singing Eddie Money’s “Two tickets to Paradise” Terrell Suggs looked at him, laughed and said “man you’re crazy”. Reed then led a team prayer and the Ravens left quickly to get back on the bus and catch their plane to New Orleans.
All in all, the team was there for maybe 20 minutes. The fans left happy and energized. Many fans were chanting as they walked through the streets and back to their cars. It was an emotional day and a fitting way for the city of Baltimore to show their support of the Ravens. Let’s hope the end result is the same this time around. In the words of Ray Lewis “We’re gonna win the Super Bowl Baby!”