Painting the Town Purple

I’ve waited for this moment for the past 12 years. Twelve years of wearing my Ravens PJs. Twelve years of wearing my jersey twice a week during the football season (Purple Fridays and then game day of course). Twelve years of putting off homework to watch games and occasionally trekking to M&T Bank Stadium to be part of the “12th Man” crew. No words can adequately describe my love for my Baltimore Ravens, what the team means to me as a member of my sports-loving family and a native of the great city of Baltimore.

But if you were in my apartment last Sunday night, you now have some appreciation for my love of the Ravens. My roommates and I invited some friends over for wings, chili, and good company during the Super Bowl, and everyone came bearing desserts, dips, and snacks.

We crowded into the living room, some on the sofa and chairs, some spread out on the floor. We laughed at the Doritos goat commercial, teared up together at the Budweiser horse one. But mostly, everyone witnessed the widest range of emotions they’ve probably ever seen me experience.

From the unbelievable first half to the second half, which was much too close near the end, I was all over the place, from tears of joy to tears of hope to tears of despair. And I’m pretty sure I gave my friend Tommy, sitting next to me, a number of bruises on his arm. What can I say, I can’t control my limbs when I’m that emotionally unstable.

Well, we all know how the night ended. And the feeling of that victory coursing through the veins of Baltimore is one I will never forget, one that everyone who was in Baltimore on February 3, 2013 will never forget. As tears streamed from my eyes the room erupted in triumphant screams, and we soon moved to the hallway where everyone was chanting, shouting, and wearing their best Ravens gear. Somehow, somewhere along the way, someone thought it would be a good idea to run to the quad, in below-freezing weather.

Yes, it’s cool to be a Ravens fan in Baltimore during a Super Bowl win, but it’s even cooler to be a Ravens fan and a Loyola student during a Super Bowl win. With some of my friends, I ran across the bridge to the quad, in nothing but a jersey and leggings, barely feeling the sting of the cold against my face. Once there, we met with probably 100 more students, chanting with banners, equipped in their jerseys, some old fans, some new. But none of it mattered. We were all there, celebrating, together, as a family.

Of course when the celebrations in the city of Baltimore rolled around on Tuesday, I wasn’t going to miss out. With my professors’ permission I missed my two classes for the day and took the light rail, meeting my mom and two cousins at M&T Bank Stadium. We packed in there with about 100,000 more Ravens fans, and awaited the arrival of our boys in purple as the parade made its way from City Hall to the stadium.

A packed M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, two days after the Super Bowl.

With my cousin Diane, Mom, and cousin Jessica at the Ravens celebration.

Seeing Ray Lewis’ last dance out of the tunnel, looking around and seeing nothing but a sea of purple, and seeing the expressions of pure joy and shock on the players’ faces was more than I ever could have hoped for. Spending those days of celebration and bliss with my family and friends, well that was the icing on the cake.

Ray Lewis soaking up the cheers from tens of thousands of fans.

So go ahead and say it’s just a sport, just a team, just a rag-tag group of guys. I’ll never buy it. To me, the Baltimore Ravens represent unity among my city, and our city. We believed in them, and they never let us down. Among the already present fan base at Loyola we added many new fans this time around, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. It’s important that we unite as a school, but to unite as a school and residents of Baltimore … well, that’s even better.

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