Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Class Act

While my primary football allegiance is to the Redskins, I'm a pretty big Ravens fan as well.

I grew up in Baltimore, so the Ravens should be my number 1, especially if you ask my family, but they didn't come to town until the year I left for college and I didn't become a football fan until many years later while I was living deep in Redskins Country.

So the Redskins are my NFC team, the Ravens my AFC team and as long as they aren't playing each other I'm always rooting for both. At this point I do have more Redskins gear than Ravens, but my two favorite cozy, snuggly sweatshirts are Ravens so they get their fair share of wear during football season.

As I wrote about a few weeks back, the Redskins had another awful season and the Ravens had another great one. They made it to the AFC Championship game today and lost 23-20. They had a chance to tie at the end, but the kicker missed, leaving jaw-dropping shocked expressions on the face of the Ravens players and fans alike. It was a pretty heartbreaking way for their really good season to come to an end.

But today's game isn't why I'm blogging about the Ravens tonight. I was inspired by two things. First, because of what Ray Rice, the Ravens leading running back, posted on Facebook:

Left my heart out on that field today. To all the loyal fans, I wish we could have brought home a win...your support means more to me than you will ever know. I'm proud of my team.

And one more consist of SIXTY MINUTES, NOT 20 seconds so before y'all start bashing MY kicker on this page, let me say this is a TEAM sport, win or if you want to be negative, keep it to yourself.

As fans it is really easy to get upset when your team loses, but it drives me nuts when people bash the players for their mistakes. These guys are professional athletes who don't get to that level of play without being competitive, hardworking and talented. But being competitive and talented and all the hard work in the world still doesn't make them perfect. But boy do the fans seem to expect perfection from their teams.

I love what Ray Rice posted. It shows true class that he first and foremost thanked the fans and second that he supported his teammate.

My second thing was something that happened a few weeks ago, that also shows the class of the organization from the top down.

This story is a bit complicated, so stick with me here...

A girl I graduated from high school with lost her younger sister to cancer two weeks ago. She was 30 years old and had two young children. It's horribly sad. I knew their family had a connection to the Ravens and learned not to long ago what it was - her stepfather is the team's equipment manager and her mom is the team seamstress. You're surprised football teams need a seamstress too, huh? Apparently jerseys come standard and there is someone who sews for each team to customize them for the player's specifications/preferences /gigantic necks, etc. But I digress...

The services for the girl who passed away were held in the days leading up to the Ravens first playoff game, with the funeral on Friday, two days before. A pretty busy time for the team no doubt, but many of the front office staff, players and coaches attended to pay their respects to the family. And then last Sunday after they won that game, the head coach presented the game ball to the girl's mother.

The football itself I'm sure does nothing to make this time any easier for their family, but having that support from the Ravens organization, I know that meant a lot to them.

I don't know much about other football organizations, but I know the Ravens have a really good one. And I'm proud to call myself a Ravens fan.

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