If you have seen me or been following me in recent months, you know Ravens football made the biggest cleat footprint on my life lately. This was especially true because I followed football closer than ever due to being in a fantasy league and also because I wanted to feel a sense of home 3,000 in San Diego every Sunday when they played. Purple Sunday became a weekly holiday for me and I would “ball so hard” as Terrell Suggs says. The Baltimore Birds whipped up a 12-4 season and will be vying for the AFC Championship this Sunday in Baltimore, the first home playoff game for the Ravens in 5 years vs. the Houston Texans. Baltimore has beat the Houston the last 5 times or 6 times they have played them in fact.
In addition, The Ravens have never lost a game in the playoffs when they have scored first or when they have had someone rush for more than 100 yards. Coach Harbaugh is 25-7 at the Bank . The Ravens were blessed with a first round bye , are competing against a rookie quarterback, and are home in their own hood- all signs are pointing to the birdcage on Sunday being a giant step towards a Purple Superbowl.
In San Diego, I ran in one circle of remarkable Baltimore birds fans. When the Ravens played the Steelers at home in September, 30 of us enjoyed having shipped live blue crabs from Maryland to do the game right. My friends Kirby and Brad arrived at the freight gate at the San Diego Airport at 8 a.m. that September Sunday to pick up bushels of skiddish, beady eyed blue crabs.
These two guys conducted an insane about of research on prices and preparation for this epic Purple Sunday. To cut costs and enable this crab feast, those geniuses steamed those blue bad boys in a keg.
We watched the game on a gargantuan projector outside where we could get tanner and cheer on our squad with Old Bay on our cheeks and fingers. At halftime, I lost miserably playing cornhole on a Ravens bags set with some of my Baltimore San Diego friends, but Lesbi honest… I didn’t care because I was just stoked to see a Kirby’s Ravens designed set of bags in his backyard.
Later in the season, we faced Sh*ttsburgh again but away. In San Diego, a block from my house stands the Baltimore bar called Dirty Birds. It’s like Cheers minus Jersey plus a sea of purple and great people who can relate of Merry Land and “mov[ing] those chains.” You walk in with one set of friends and then recognize 3 other sets of people through the grapevine who all love B(eing)MORE. It’s Baltimore bliss in a bar.
I’ll never forget that game because I shed my first tear over football that night. There were 4 minutes left in the game and we were down because Steelers just scored, but we had been leading the majority of the game. My pupils were glued to that SONY with unrivelled concentration on every play as tears started to slowly streamed down my face as negative thoughts surged from my Baltimoron heart. I was starting to think those terrible towels might be getting an anlawful W against us, but the Baltimore birds bounced back and I rejoiced hallelujah from my bar stool and kissed the football gods and the lucky Ravens fan next to me.
The third great Purple Sunday I had this year was Ravens vs. Chargers on December 18. That day was also sentimental because the way I planned my busy California Coast trip, my raging stressed December, and my trip across America, that Sunday was my last day in San Diego before I took off the next morning for my vehicle voyage across America with Steve. I could not have asked for a greater tribute to both fabulous cities (other than having the Ravens win, but still).
It was a perfect blending of the two cities, the one I lived in and had dreamt about living in one day since I was 17 and the one city that is my happy place, the key source of glee to my next job and house.) I’ve been to zillions of great tailgates, but this was one was one for the books, especially since I was done one chapter and was about to start writing the next.
Everything in my life had been leading up to that pinnacle of a day in some way or the other for months including driving to Goodwill 4 times to donate things before the big move. One time in particular, during my final week in SD, the radio played, “I’m Coming Home” and I sang and teared up tears of joy. So when the Ravens produced this video earlier this week, I never felt a pump up video resonate with my sports team and my life so much until then. Hope you are touched too.
Time in: back on track. So, I helped orchestrate tickets for a big group of Ravens friends (the crowd that cracked crabs earlier in the season) and their local or visiting friends for the the Ravens Chargers game at Qualcomm Stadium. We all did an all inclusive set of party buses that took us from Pacific Beach to the game and back, plus catered food, all you can drink brews, bathrooms on the buses, zero cleanup, tons of chairs, TVs to watch the other NFL game while we tailgated for 5 hours, sick DJs, and tables for Flip cup and Ruit.
There were hundreds of Ravens fans at our enormous tailgate of all ages, sizes, and hometowns, but we all were big fans of Ball So Hard University.
I dance all the time-watching Ellen, out on Friday nights at midnight with my friends, solo in the shower. But one of my favorite dance-a-thons was grooving with girls and guys under the San Diego sun at our tailgate 1 o’clock in our Ravens attire to Ball So Hard (“Ni**az in Paradise” by Jay-Z and Kanye West. The game was not for another 4 hours, but we transformed those parking spaces to Sunday Night Fever midday.
God bless tailgating and I will be there Sunday at the Bank rooting for the Ravens in my Flacco jersey. BALL SO HARD- The Ravens have a new anthem song thank God (“Who Let the Dogs Out” was not cutting it. We’ve already painted the town purple and the Natty Boh sign has changed to that gorgeous royal color as well. On Sunday, in the locker room, the players will play some their traditional game of Cornhole before the game (also a Ravens set like Kirby’s) and the defensive line will sing their gameday ritual of the Ace Hood’s “Hustle Hard.” John Harbaugh says the Ravens practices have got to be the most fun practicein the league and it is probably because the stars of the Baltimore show have been around together for so many years. It’s a fraternity, a family, a team, who all have their eyes set on the prize for the love of Charm City.
My friends, the media, the city and suburbs are so amped for Sunday. One thing is for sure, the tailgates, blaring “Ball So Hard,” outside M&T Bank and Baltimore’s roars inside the birdcage on Sunday will be KRAY..