For roughly six years, I was in the Maryland Air National Guard. For people who don't know, this base is located in Middle River, MD. Middle River, conveniently, is located just north of Baltimore city. And with the territory, comes the colors. One weekend a month, i would travel from my humble abode in Columbia, MD, and venture up 95 to the tiny town called Middle River. I would have to prepare myself, mentally, for the attacks i would get for being a fan of one of the saddest franchises in the NFL. A team that looked nothing like what its history had left it. But I always stood strong to their statements against my fandom. I mean, we all know what it's like to stand next to a team through the thick and the thin. It was hard to have to explain to a group of fans what it's like being a fan of a mediocre (or worse) team, when all they have witnessed in their tenure as a team was success. I have had the unfortunate experience meeting Ravens fans who have openly admitted to not being a fan of them if they sucked. Now, explain to me, how is that a true fan?
This would go on year round. In a place like Maryland, as well as its surrounding areas, there is no off-season to football for the fans. Before the season started, we talk draft and the free agent market. When the season was going on, we would talk about game predictions and fantasy football. And, of course, after the season we would talk about who was staying, going, retiring, etc. But there was always the fact that my team sucked, and their team owned this state.
Oh how the tides have changed.
Let me be perfectly clear, in no way am i a Ravens hater. I understand the fun rivalry, trust me. I live in the battleground. Columbia, MD is pretty much the middle point between DC and Baltimore, so their is a healthy mix of both fans. But i really don't wish them bad luck, unless we play them. And the last couple of years, i have hoped for them to do well in the play-offs, considering we were lacking such a team for so long. But there is a tiny part of me that smiles when they lose and we win, and that win two weeks ago was HUGE for me.
I had a football party, with all of my friends and family, military and civilian alike. Unfortunately, the ratio was about 3:1 Ravens to Redskins fans. And how sweet it was to beat their team in our house that Sunday. That pass from Kirk Cousins to Pierre Garcon was almost the defining moment of our season. There really is a magical element to our team this year, and that moment showed it in a way that nothing earlier in the season could have even come close to. The Redskins are on the rise, and the Ravens are, finally, on the decline. Now those fans will know what its like to be a true fan of team. Through thick and thin, till death do us part. It's a marriage. It's love.
"It's the sour and the sweet. And I know sour, which allows me to appreciate the sweet." -Jason Lee, Vanilla Sky