A few years back, I decided to become a football fan.
Mainly, this was because I realized I was missing out on a lot of fun. As the yearly winter writing retreats held by The Eastern Shore Writing Project always coincided with the advanced stages of the post-season playoffs, I tended to, at frequent social events throughout the retreats, witness overzealous fans exalting in their teams' glory with every miraculous play, only to be crushed by the agonizing suspense that followed as the opposition pulled off an equally daring feat. The clock would wind down, the fate of the game coming down to the last minute or even last seconds.
All while I was left out!
It was a wild roller coaster ride that I wanted to be part of. Clearly, when something elicits such strong emotions, one should fully throw oneself into it.
I had a problem though. I had no idea which team to follow.
I grew up in a home that never followed football, minus the Super Bowl, which we watched mainly for commercials. As a former high school cheerleader, I had a limited understanding of the game. One reason I'd never cared for it when I was younger was due to the frequent starting and stopping (also why I'm not a baseball fan). As an adult, I've realized that the time-outs and time required to set up the ensuing plays are a much needed breather to give one's heart a chance to start beating again. (Or, you know, grab a beer).
Particularly because I decided to become a Ravens fan.
Now, I didn't come to this decision lightly. Two years ago, I resorted to a social media poll to seek rational, logical advice regarding which team to follow. What I discovered is that, ironically, even more than religion or politics, football will get people to arguing.
Anyway, I was really between a few teams-- Baltimore, Washington, the two Pennsylvania options--all because they were relatively close--and the Miami Dolphins.
The Redskins are pretty local, but they don't seem to win too often. Also, they were the favorite team of a late friend of mine's from high school. She passed away last year, just before the Super Bowl. Part of me thinks I hold a grudge against them for not making it to the Bowl last year (because, for once, they actually had a shot). Or maybe I just wanted to root for a team that wins more often.
The Steelers and Eagles both have significant followings around these parts as well, so I was pressured (especially by Steelers fans) to join their camps. I was leaning toward the Steelers for a bit, because, let's face it, they win pretty often. Also, many of my friends are Steelers fans. However, Rashieme hates them, so that sort of put an end to that. (I see no reason to pile on additional marital strife before our marriage has even begun). Also, I don't look great in black and yellow. (But they DID have that catchy Wiz Kalifa tune a few years back working in their favor. BLACK AND YELLOW BLACK AND YELLOW....)
Rashieme's team is the Eagles, but mainly because he likes Michael Vick. In spite of all the controversy surrounding Vick, Rashieme claims that he is (was?) the greatest quarterback in the league. Up until this current season, they also seemed to claim losing as a pastime, so for me, that was a strike against them. Also, I love Philadelphia-- love, love, LOVE the city, especially the cheesesteaks--but I wasn't sure I could live with myself if I became a Philadelphia fan. My grandmother, a Baltimore native, has a longstanding hatred for the Orioles' opponents, and the only team she dislikes more than the (you guessed it) New York Yankees is the Phillies. Something about rooting for Philadelphia just felt wrong.
So that took care of the local teams, minus Baltimore. I know you think I probably picked Baltimore due to the fact that they were last year's Super Bowl champions and I jumped on the bandwagon... but actually, I was verymuchthisclose to becoming a Miami Dolphins fan.
1. They are in Florida. (I love Florida).
2. Their jerseys are pretty. (I love turquoise).
3. They are featured in one of my all-time favorite movies, Ace Ventura, Pet Detective.
4. Once, I watched some Miami dude on defense with a lot of dred locks nearly annihilate some poor schmuck on the other team who was unfortunate enough to have the ball.
5. They are the only team I ever bet money on, and I actually won. It was the year they lost every single game except one, which, ironically, was against the Baltimore Ravens. Rashieme and I bet 50 bucks on who was going to win in overtime. I put my money on the Dolphins, and, somehow, someway, they managed to get their only win of the season.
But something about being a Dolphins fan didn't feel right. It wasn't just that they're thousands of miles away and there are virtually no other fans in this area. It wasn't just that they hardly ever win. It was, I guess, a combination of the two.
And the fact that, when we ventured out together to watch games, I found myself embarrassed to say I was a Miami fan.
SO, I was back to Baltimore. Really, it only made sense. They win a lot, but they lose a lot, too, so I didn't feel like I was too much of a bandwagon jumper. Note that I am still a fan, even after the travesty that was this past season.
1. They are as local as you can get, living in Delaware. Plus, my mom's side of the family is from Baltimore.
2. I look really good in purple.
3. There's the whole literary connection, which makes perfect sense, given my occupation. "The Raven" isn't my favorite, but I really dig some of Poe's other works.
4. Their players are truly giving. Though my late friend Karisa (whom I mentioned earlier in this post), was a Redskins fan, leading up to and then shortly after her death, several Baltimore players made donations to Karisification, the new charity Karisa wished to set up to raise awareness of adrenal cancer, which sadly took her life a little over a year ago. This was directly in the midst of play-off craziness, and some very selfless Ravens chipped in amazing donations for auctions to raise money for Karisafication.
5. Finally, Rashieme's brother works for the Ravens (and the Orioles). Richard, if you're reading, I'd very much appreciate some discounted (or, you know, free) tickets.
So sadly, the Ravens' season is over. But the Super Bowl looms in the near future! Who are you betting on? Denver or Seattle? What do you think of my methodology in selecting a team? Share your thoughts or love for your own team in the comments section!
Oh! And Happy Super Bowl Weekend everybody! Enjoy responsibly!