Braving rain and frigid temperatures, die-hard Baltimore Ravens fans converged on the Inner Harbor downtown Jan. 28 to send their hometown team off to New Orleans to do battle against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.
Fans donned purple jerseys, jackets, hats and scarves. Elected officials showed off their team memorabilia, as well. Cheerleaders danced and frenzied fans squealed and screamed from the amphitheatre space to nearby restaurant balconies and steps.
“This year our team is on a magical run,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who spoke to the crowd shortly before Gov. Martin O’Malley did his part to rev things up. “They said we couldn’t beat that team from Indianapolis. We proved them wrong. They said we couldn’t beat the Broncos. I’m still waiting for the mayor to pay up and do his dance. They said we couldn’t beat the Patriots and we taught them a little something last Sunday.
“Let them keep underestimating our Ravens because that’s when we shine the best!” she said.
The crowd went wild.
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh, who will match wits with his brother Jim, the head coach of the 49ers, when the two teams take the field Feb. 3, called the local faithful the “best fans in the world.” He said though the fans would not be present inside the New Orleans Superdome when the teams battle, they would all travel south in the hearts of the players he vowed to bring back as champions. The Harbaugh brothers will make history as the first brother coaches ever to compete against each other in a Super Bowl.
The sendoff would not have been complete without a message from fan favorite, retiring linebacker Ray Lewis, who will play in the last game of his career as he attempts to bring home a Super Bowl ring.
“We did this in 2000 and we are not going to New Orleans for nothing else but to bring another ring back to Baltimore—where it belongs,” said Lewis, who has spent his entire 17-year NFL career with the team.
“We love you! We love you! We love you, Baltimore!” he told the crowd, sending the fans into another frenzy. “We are going to bring everything we got!”
After the team departed, many of the fans stayed on at the Inner Harbor, savoring the moment. Though the rally started at 11:30 a.m., many of them had gathered hours earlier, showing up at the amphitheater well before sunrise to get a spot as close as possible to the players.
“I’ve been a fan ever since I can remember—even when they were the Colts,” said Yvonne Chandler-Jones, 46, who predicted that the Ravens would win by 10 to 15 points. “The Colts snuck out of town, but now we have the Ravens and we are going to the Super Bowl!”