There’s mid-week angst amongst some Baltimore sports fans leading up to the Ravens’ biggest game in recent memory and even one semi-disgruntled and injured future Hall of Fame safety can’t seem to stand all of this prosperity, luck and good fortune.
The Baltimore Ravens are 60 minutes from going back to a Super Bowl – and in Indianapolis, no less – where they can bring home a Lombardi Trophy and set off a year of civic celebrations that will allow us to walk through airports, hotels, beaches and streets with a hat that says: “World Champions” and I’m not about to suffer any fool who thinks a playoff-tested, 13-4 team that’s getting healthier doesn’t have a chance to beat the New England Patriots in Foxborough on Sunday.
Las Vegas says the Patriots are 7 ½ point favorites but the Ravens have been underdogs on the road a lot in January over the past three years. This is nothing new and nothing that hasn’t been overcome.
And this “Ed Reed vs. Joe Flacco” story is the new “drama of the day” but I think it has zero effect on Sunday’s game vs. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the No. 1 seed in the AFC playing at home in wintry conditions.
This will be a man’s man’s game for all of the marbles and these harsh words, criticism and this rhetoric and analysis will not make a tackle or a block or a catch on Sunday.
And if I see one more fan go down the Rodney Dangerfield route – “The Ravens don’t get any respect” — I’m gonna puke.
Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning have won a Super Bowl and the New York media painted them as the village idiots many times this season. And now, they too are 60 minutes away from the Super Bowl, same as the upstart wildcard Green Bay Packers of 12 months ago, who are mired in their own disgrace this week after badly losing a home game after a bye and 16 weeks of league-wide domination.
But to reiterate my refrain from hundreds of hours of sports radio discussing the 2001 Baltimore Ravens’ season: “Last year was a long time ago…”
Meanwhile, the fans of the league reach week to week for the thermometer and the media do their “power rankings” and talk about statistics and what team is ranked where for offense and defense. For me, that crap bores me. And the numbers routinely lie because situational football is the key to winning football.
And all that matters is right here, right now for the Ravens. The next 60 minutes of football will define the Baltimore Ravens of 2011. They will either be a Super Bowl team headed to Indianapolis to seek revenge for the metropolis or a massive civic disappointment.
And Flacco knows it. And he knows nothing short of a Joe Montana performance in Indianapolis will change the public perception of his role as a “championship” quarterback. And as he said yesterday, “I’ll be wearing a ring and holding the trophy