Fly Ravens Fly

Super BirdI can at long last turn local sports talk radio back on: football fans have exhausted their ire over the Steelers 8-8 season, baseball is in the deep dark offseason, and hockey season is back on and off to a great start. It’s nontoxic once more. So, the last two days, with the Penguins off, the main topic has been to invite fans to weigh in on the lose-lose scenario that is the upcoming Super Bowl. Do fans hate the Ravens too much to root for them to upset the 49’ers to protect the sole possession of six Lombardi’s? Or is our singular claim to six championships more important than our most bitter divisional rivalry? I thought it would be no contest, but like so many things this year, I was completely wrong. The callers are, like the hosts of the morning show, pretty split on the topic, with one guy actually saying he can’t do either position so he’s going to see The Hobbit on Super Bowl Sunday. I’ve seen it already, so here’s my case for the Super Bowl winner.

The Ravens have my allegiance – just for the day. Not that I don’t have a healthy sense of self-loathing for that position, but candidly, I was also hoping they would upset the Patriots. Look at it this way, had the Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl, Steeler fans would have had to face whether they wanted Tom Brady to tie Terry Bradshaw’s record of four Super Bowl wins (already shared by Joe Montana) or deal with being in a tie the 49’ers with six trophies. Bigger lose-lose in my opinion than the match-up we’re facing now.

The Ravens, while a Grade A rival, are in possession of only one Super Bowl, with an aging defense and a quarterback that has been stellar in the post season, but was less shiny in the regular season, so, in short, is streaky. If they win, they will be hard pressed to repeat and certainly not in queue to gather up four more any time soon.

Granted, it pains us to watch Ray Lewis get a second ring and tie such Steeler greats as Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward and Ben Roethlisberger to name a few. But think of it this way: it is his last. And he’ll likely never win Dancing with the Stars. Let him have it. We may dislike him, but give him his due: he was a worthy opponent for a lot of years. No matter what you think of him personally (Wes Welker’s wife will point out his shortcomings to you if you’re not sure about them), no one can take away his prowess on the field, painful as that is to admit.

As to the argument that sharing the honors of the most Super Bowl wins is not a disgrace, I would say that is correct. It is not. But, it is also not the same as being the singular team with that honor. I, like most of the callers this morning, have absolutely no animosity towards San Francisco. Not the team and not the fan base. If the number of titles were reversed, I’d be learning their fight song (or finding out if they even have one) and coming up with a red and gold outfit for Super Bowl Sunday. But, the simple fact is that the 49’ers are trying to breathe rarified air that right now only the Steelers can. I personally want to stay on that pedestal alone. Call me selfish. I surely am, but, really, who in their most honest cannot say that they are not as well?

In the end analysis, protecting that place in the history books for a while longer is worth the distaste that comes from rooting for archrivals. To sweeten the pot, think how much fun it will be to beat the defending Super Bowl champs next season.

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