Spending my entire childhood in Columbus, I learned what it was like to grow up in a college town. Despite Columbus being a very respectable city in its own right, the place undoubtedly loves their Buckeyes. Gameday is an experience all in its own. And it’s not just about attending the game; everywhere you go there are watch parties and people donned in scarlet and gray.
This isn’t always the same when it comes to the NFL. While the fans are just as passionate, the vibe of the city does not normally directly relate to its NFL team. Most NFL teams are located in major cities that have a whole lot more going on than what’s being played on a field.
That is not the case here in Baltimore. I have always felt that this city is like a college town when it comes to the Ravens. They have a thing here called ‘Purple Fridays’, where everyone wears either a jersey or something purple to work. The entire vibe of the city changes when football season kicks off. A Ravens loss results in the feeling of a smog over the city, while a victory even over an easy opponent sends the city into a frenzy.
So you can imagine what is happening here right now. The whole city is a buzz. 2 out of every 3 billboards are referencing the Super Bowl. ‘Purple Friday’ has taken over every work day. Wrapping up a transaction at any business is always concluded with a “Go Ravens.” It’s almost as if “Roll Tide” has made it up the east coast.
As much as I hate the Ravens and everything their franchise stands for, I have to respect what is going on here. The people here are so passionate about their team. You can point to the blue collar reputation of the city. The residents work their tails off all week, live pay check to pay check and root for the Ravens on Sunday. The same can be said of many of the blue collar cities in the NFL.
As a child I was too young to appreciate what it was like in the state of Ohio to see the Browns as winners. I have to believe that when the Browns make the destined return to greatness, that the feel in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio will be similar to what is happening in Baltimore. You already have a very dedicated fan base who has done their best to be patient with the Browns struggles.
As much as I hate the purple overload, it is giving me a peak into what success in the NFL feels like. The city possesses a swagger when it comes to their team, but that attitude comes from sustained periods of winning. I feel like that is attainable for the Browns.
Despite my hatred for the Ravens, I can’t help but think that they win this game. Maybe the loyalists are rubbing off on me, but I just have a gut feeling that they pull it out and I will have to deal with this madness for a whole year.
My pick Ravens 34/Niners 27