To most people, Festivus has everything to do with Seinfeld, an aluminum pole, the “Airing of Grievances” and “Feats of Strength”. In Baltimore it carries a totally different meaning.
When the 2000 Baltimore Ravens started their playoff run in the month of December, Coach Brian Billick forbid his players from mentioning the word “playoffs”. Forbid and actually threatened to fine any player who even whispered the word. The team needed a code word and it was decided that “Festivus” would be that phrase. Similarly, once into the playoffs, the club was not supposed to mention the pinnacle — the Super Bowl. From that point on, the city of Baltimore has referred to Super Bowl as Festivus Maximus.
Happy Festivus Maximus, everyone.
Another set of the Olympic Games have come and gone. I very much enjoyed watching the London events even if I didn’t catch as much as I wanted to. The neat thing about the Olympics is how we’re all on the same team. Your entire country is rooting for your team, it’s not just your city. It’s amazing how these games bring us together as fans.
Back in the Beijing Olympics, our hometown hero, Michael Phelps (Baltimore represent), was poised to make history. Mark Spitz owned a 36-year-old record with seven gold medals captured in a single Olympic Games. It was common knowledge Phelps went to Beijing with one goal, to sweep his events with gold medals.
On August 17, 2008 the Baltimore Ravens hosted a home preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. As far as preseason games go, crowds tend to thin out almost completely after half time. Not that night, the Ravens organization planned to simulcast Michael Phelps’ final event, the 4x100-meter medley relay, on the jumbotron at the conclusion of the game.
Thousands endured a heated battle between Tarvaris Jackson and Kyle Boller. It turned out to be worth it. Watching Michael Phelps win his eighth medal with thousands of cheering fans is something I’ll never forgot. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. I tried my best to capture the sentiment in the accompanied video. There are many skills I can list on my resume, cinematographer is not one of them.
Let’s have a toast for the douchebags
Let’s have a toast for the assholes
Let’s have a toast for the scumbags
Every one of them that I know
Let’s have a toast to the jerkoffs
That’ll never take work off
Baby, I got a plan
Run away fast as you can
— Kanye West, Runaway (2010)
Joe Flacco has been murdered locally and criticized nationally. The scrutiny is by no means baseless but the intensity is surprising. On Sunday night Flacco made another crucial mistake and lost a fumble in Heinz Field. Instead of being mentally taken out of the game he led the Ravens on a game winning 92-yard touchdown drive in the final two minutes of play — a drive that would have made Johnny U proud. The questions are far from answered and we all know the NFL is week to week. If Flacco doesn’t follow this up with a strong performance in Seattle than the same demons come rushing back. But for now I’d like to have a toast for the Flacco haters.
In the late 1990’s and early 2000 the Tennessee Titans, not the Pittsburgh Steelers, were the Baltimore Raven’s bitter rivals. This was at a time before the divisions realigned and there was an AFC Central. These two teams played twice a year at a minimum and shared equal disdain for each other.
In 1999 the Titans opened up a brand new stadium, Adelphia Coliseum, with 13 straight wins. They were the best team in the AFC and invincible at home. At least they were until the Ravens came to town and squeaked out a 24-23 upset win. But that’s not the most interesting part of this meeting. After the game Trent Dilfer returned to the locker room and he couldn’t find his playbook. He searched the facility but was unable to find it. The Ravens had to leave the complex without recovering the “lost” playbook.
It’s considered “lost” because Trent Dilfer is convinced that the Titans stole it. He swears by it. To support this theory Dilfer points to two months later when the Ravens returned to Aelphia Coliseum for a playoff grudge match.
“They knew what we we’re going to do going into that game. They had us and nobody’s ever heard this story before. And they played us completely different. We we’re shell shocked. I think that’s the hardest I’ve ever been hit. Over and over and over. I just took a beating that game. I remember sitting on the sidelines that game and going ‘Wow, we better win the whole thing if I’m going to take this kind of beating.’”
The Ravens offense was even more pathetic than usual. Baltimore only mustered six first downs and Dilfer completed five passes the entire game. Stealing a playbook is a serious accusation. I don’t pretend to know what really happened that day but it’s certainly an interesting story.
By they way, how great was Trent Dilfer in the late Monday Night Football game? He’s one of the best analysts there are. I wish he was a Monday night regular.
When Baltimore Ravens entered the league in 1996 amateur artist Frederick Bouchat faxed a design submission to the Maryland Stadium Authority. Soon after a logo that was designed by a league artist in New York was released to the public. The odd thing was that it looked very similar to the drawing that Bouchat submitted but no credit was given.
Bouchat rightfully sued the team for copyright infringement. The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Bouchat and the team was forced to change their primary logo. The court also ruled that Bouchat was entitled to three dollars in damages from the NFL.
NFL kickers will be forever the butt of everyone’s joke. It comes with the territory, just not in Baltimore. Matt Stover came to the Ravens with the Browns team that left Cleveland in ‘96. Week after week he would make up for the Raven’s non-existent offense. Take a look at the stats, there were several games in the 2000 Super Bowl year alone that Stover was the only offense in the game. It would be interesting to see how many 9-6 games the Ravens won off Stover’s right foot.
Stover played 12 years in Baltimore and holds the Ravens’ all-time record in points with 1,464. I’m not joking when I say this, his jersey should be retired. The list of greatest players this franchise has seen goes like this: Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden, Ed Reed, and Jamal Lewis. The fifth name should be Matt Stover.
Today the Ravens plan to unofficially sign Stover to a one-day contract so that he can retire in purple in black. Where he belongs. In Baltimore. Where we appreciate our kickers.
It’s not on the same level as Peyton vs. Brady but Polamalu vs. Reed is worthy of it’s own discussion. Two veteran safeties that play the game completely different.
Troy, being a strong safety, plays closer to the line of scrimmage while Ed Reed is much more of a “center fielder”. Both have their fair share of interceptions but there’s no question who is more dangerous with the ball. Ed turns into a wide receiver with juking abilities as soon as he catches the ball. He’s totaled more than 1400 interception return yards. On the flip side Troy hits harder (Ed’s neck injury has forced him to dial it back) and is much better at getting to the quarterback. Troy’s timing is impeccable, have you ever seen someone time the snap count like him? Troy has two Super Bowl rings and he terrifies me.
The bottom line is these are two annual Pro-Bowlers who should be a lock for the Hall of Fame. Lucky for us we get another rematch between the two tomorrow.
A Chitwood & Hobbs Field Report