The Baltimore Ravens won Super Bowl 35 on January 28th, 2001. 4,390 days later, the Ravens will be playing for their 2nd Lombardi Trophy Sunday night in New Orleans.
As you get older, it is amazing how time speeds up on you. Months, and even years, just fly by. Still, 12 years is a long time. Think about how the World has changed since that January night in Tampa. On a more personal level, think about what has gone on during your own life over these years.
During the Ravens SB35 beating of the Giants, the crowd I was with, was already talking about the following season. (Had Jamal Lewis not blown out his ACL in August 2001, I do believe the Ravens would have won back-to-back titles.) I do remember saying to others that we needed to enjoy the moment. That there was no way of knowing when the Ravens would be back. Sadly, I don’t think I took my own advice. I don’t think I took-in everything that night. Maybe part of that was because I was just 21, and at that age – there is a natural inclination to only look ahead. Looking ahead is also just part of my own natural disposition.
While my eagerness for Sunday’s arrival continues to grow, my frustration of the ‘team of destiny’ storyline is reaching a boiling point. The core of this Ravens team has been to the playoffs 5 consecutive years, winning at-least one playoff game each year. There have been 3 trips to the AFC Championship Game. The analysts calling this a miracle run, are looking at the season statistics where the Ravens were middling. The Ravens regular season was a grind, as they dealt with numerous injuries, and other issues. They got healthy, they improved their offensive play calling, and they fixed their offensive line. That is why they got hot. Nothing they have done in the Playoffs is a fluke. When they beat a supremely talented 49ers team Sunday night… that won’t be a fluke either.
Make no mistake, the Niners are the best team the Ravens have played this year. They are far more talented than either Denver or New England. San Francisco and Baltimore are two bullies who are going to come between the lines and swing at each other. 12 rounds, center of the ring. Shot for shot, blow for blow.
This game isn’t just about this year. This is the culmination of a moment that has been building for quite some time. This game is about legacy. You can respect the Ravens as champions already for how they have fought through adversity.
Ultimately, after being hit square in their jaw and falling to a knee, the Ravens will rise back up and deliver a knockout punch of SF – leaving Baltimore the last ones standing.
The greatest moments in sports and life are when you’ve spilled blood, sweat, and tears to battle through obstacles in your way. That is what the Ravens did to get to New Orleans, and it is what they will have to do to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Charm City. I don’t think I’m enjoying this run any more than I did when I was younger, but I do think I am better positioned to appreciate it more.