One of the most disconcerting aspects of traveling to a country whose language you don’t know is how the most commonplace things become indecipherable. Ask a stranger for directions and she may think to explain tricky vocabulary but she’ll almost never think to describe whether the place she just referred to is a city, train station, library, cafe, or all of the above. The same is true for sports natives. A thoughtful sports fan should be willing and able to explain a rule, but he’ll almost never think of explaining who a particular team is, what sport they play, or the team’s history and characteristics. In this series, we’ll do just that — describe what is unique about each sports team.
Baltimore Ravens – the basics
- Sport – Football
- League – National Football League (NFL)
- Conference – American Football Conference (AFC)
- Division – AFC North
- History – The Baltimore Ravens have one of the most interesting creation stories in the NFL. After failing in several attempts to land an expansion franchise, the city convinced the owner of the Cleveland Browns to move his team to Baltimore for the 1996 season. Baltimore football fans felt understandably queasy about taking another city’s team, especially because so many of them were still angry that their original team had moved to Indianapolis in 1984. Cleveland residents were not so happy either. As part of a settlement with the NFL, the team moving to Baltimore promised to leave its name, colors, and its history in Cleveland and start anew in Baltimore. The NFL promised to replace the Browns in Cleveland within three years. So, the Ravens began in Baltimore with an already established set of players, but otherwise just like a new expansion team.
- Championships – The Ravens have won two Super Bowls, one in 2000 and one in 2012.
- Rivals – The Ravens rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers is the most physically intense rivalry of the 2000s. Games between the two teams feel viscerally different from the point of view of a spectator and I would imagine to the players as well.
The Ravens have a very distinct image. They’re loud, aggressive, and physical. Like the Chicago Bears, their teams lean towards great defenses that can carry mediocre offenses deep into the playoffs. Unlike the Bears though, the formula has worked for the Ravens, twice in their short history. The Ravens are known throughout the league as being very smart operators from a management and player development standpoint. When they reach a point at which other teams would have to go through several years of losing while they rebuild their rosters, the Ravens seem to be able to reload quickly and keep winning. After three losing seasons to start the team’s time in Baltimore, they only had another three in the next fifteen years.
Here is the their winning percentage in each season since their inception:
Who are some notable players or figures from the Baltimore Ravens?
Ray Lewis was the face of the Ravens franchise and the heart of their defense for most of his 17-year career with the Baltimore Ravens. Lewis was a brilliant middle linebacker and a charismatic leader. During the prime of his career, from 1998 to 2001, the Ravens had a streak of 51 games in which they didn’t allow a single player from an opposing team to rush for 100 yards. Lewis’ career was marred by an indictment for murder in 2000. The charges against Lewis were eventually dropped to a lower offense after he agreed to testify against two other people accused of the crime. Lewis’ public image took a hit but bounced back a few years later. Lewis is once again a very popular figure and a big part of ESPN’s NFL coverage.
Jonathan Ogden was drafted as the fourth overall pick by the Ravens in their inaugural 1996 draft. It was a great pick for the team. One of the tallest players in NFL history, the 6’9″ and 345 pound Ogden manned the left side of Baltimore’s offensive line for the next twelve years. An almost impossibly good player, starting in 1997, Ogden was voted into the Pro Bowl every year until he retired in 2007. He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013 and became the first honoree to have played his entire career with the Ravens.
Where do the Baltimore Ravens play?
The blind date test
Imagine you’re about to go on a blind date and all you know about the person is that he or she is a Baltimore Ravens fan. Here’s what you can guess about that person. Remember that all fans are unique. We bear no responsibility for any misunderstandings we engender. Trust but verify.
Your date will tell you exactly what he or she thinks of those new pants you’re wearing. Ravens fans don’t hold back easily or often.
What will make a Baltimore Ravens fan squirm?
Last year’s controversy over Ray Rice will make most Ravens fans squirm in their seats. Through no fault of their own, they rooted for him for years and years, and that doesn’t feel good retroactively.
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What do the Baltimore Ravens look like?
Team colors are purple, black, metallic gold, and white. Their current uniforms look like this.