Before 2000, I didn't care about football. I was 15, growing up in Maryland. My sports were soccer, basketball, sometimes baseball. Football was boring, played by a bunch of fat guys who, given my high school bravado, I was sure I could run circles around.
Baltimore, to me, was a baseball town, and the Ravens were a poor distraction from the fact the Colts, much like prosperity, had left Charm City years ago.
Then came the Ravens' run to the Super Bowl in 2001. All of a sudden, Ravens pride sprouted up overnight. Call me a fair weather fan, but I like to think of it as street smart. Cautioned from the years of the
My parents had the terrible idea of going to California just when the playoffs were getting interesting. Every game, I would sit preparing for the inevitable, just another Baltimore team losing. And every game, the bigger-than-life lineup of
It's been seven and a half years since that game, but it's something that I, along with my childhood friends, still hold tightly. At my high school graduation two years later, the student speaker received a standing ovation when she shouted "GO RAVENS" at the end of her speech. And now that I'm all grown up in New York, a poster of Ray Lewis adorns my cubicle.
When Ogden, the 11-time Pro Bowler who had the thankless job of blocking for questionably talented quarterbacks, announced his retirement this week, it was just another sign that the era of that heroic team is over, headed to the annals of history just like the Orioles' success stories of the 80s. Ray Lewis spent the end of last season trying to play through a painful arm injury. The coaching staff was dismantled due to subpar performance, as the team finished 1-6 in the last seven games of the season. And Jamal Lewis, for the first time in his professional career, spent last season on a team other than the Ravens.
The media is running with the storyline about how four potential Hall of Famers --
When asked what his biggest accomplishment was while playing, Ogden answered it was when he helped pave the way for Jamal Lewis to run for 2,066 yards in 2003, the second most in NFL history. But still wearing his Super Bowl ring, he said his favorite season was 2000. He also said that what he looks forward to most about retirement is watching football as a fan on Sundays. I only hope he finds a team that he can love as much as we loved the one he helped build.