The next 2 weeks of Baltimore football could be 2 of the best ever, perhaps second only to the AFC Championship – Super Bowl wins in early 2001. Why so much potential? Well, over the next 12 days, the two teams that the majority of Ravens fans absolutely HATE the most are not only on B’More’s schedule back-to-back, but they are both coming here, to Charm City, to get their asses handed to them in consecutive games.
On top of that, the Ravens could land a brutal 1-2 punch to “Warshington” and “Pissburgh.” A win over the 7-5 Redskins this week will pretty much end their playoff hopes in the NFC. Then, if the Dallas Cowboys can do us a solid and take out the Steelers prior to Ravens-Skins kickoff this Sunday, then the aforementioned Ravens win will set up what will in all liklihood be the defining game of the AFC North in 2008, when Baby Ben & Co. come to town on December 14 and both teams sport equal 9-4 records.
Not much could be better for us football fans here in B’More than knocking the Skins out of the playoff picture, then taking first place from the Squealers all in the span of 8 glorious days.
Sure, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, but as fans, that’s pretty much our M.O. A scenario this sweet may literally never come around again, so we need to take the time to savor it.
It begs the question, though, which team do you hate more? The Redskins or the Steelers? I decided to break down the hate into 4 categories and give scores to figure out the answer, at least for one Ravens fan.
Steelers vs. Redskins: The Hating Game
Category 1: Past History
The football history between Baltimore and Washington goes back to well before the Ravens were around, so I thought it best to break history into 2 categories. This first history lesson begins back when the Baltimore Colts were still the darlings of Charm City. Any Colts fan who was forced to work in an area of the great state of Maryland that was heavy with ‘Skins fans was subject to endless ribbing, especially in the later years when our Horseshoes absolutely stunk. Now, I wasn’t around for any of this, but the men in my family were, and as a result I was raised with a deep hatred of all things burgundy. I was around, however, in the ensuing years when Baltimore was devoid of an NFL franchise (I have the Baltimore Stallions CFL Championship T-Shirt to prove it), and NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke, and basically anybody living south of Anne Arundel County thought that I and all other Baltimore-area football fans should just get over it and adopt the team with the closest geography, the damn Redskins. The problem was, anyone who was originally a Colts fan, or who was raised by someone who was, would have rather taken a swim in the disgustingly polluted Anacostia River. No way we were ever going to be caught dead cheering for the Redskins.
Adding to my own personal hatred was that one of the teachers in my elementary school, a woman who was loud and obnoxious by nature, was even more loud and obnoxious when it came to professing her love of her dear “Ray-ed skiyuns.” It was an annoyance that had my pre-pubescent self hating her long before I had the great fortune of having her as MY teacher the year the “Ray-ed skiyuns” last won a Super Bowl, 1992. As evidence, I can probably name more players from that team than from any other early-90’s era Super Bowl Champion (Gary Clark, Mark Rypien, Gary Sanders, Darryl Green…ugh, STUPID BUFFALO BILLS!) It doesn’t take much to get a 9-year-old boy to hate something, and this Redskin hate was now something that would be engrained for life.
As far as the Steelers back in the day, I was told that “they used to kick our asses,” all the time, but for the most part, Baltimoreans didn’t carry over any Steeler-hating from our old team to our new one. (If any of you disagree, please, let me know in the comments).
Category 2: Recent History
Redskins-Ravens is quite a bare history, actually. The two teams have played only 3 times, with the Ravens winning in 1997 and 2004, and the ‘Skins beating the eventual Super Bowl Champs in 2000. As a matter of fact, due to odd scheduling idiosyncrasies, this is the VERY FIRST time Washington will make their shortest-possible road trip for a (real) game against the Ravens, making them the final NFL team to play the purple-and-black here. Weird.
Do we really even need to go over recent Steeler history? Baltimore-Pittsburgh has evolved into one of the fiercest rivalries in the league over the past decade, but especially since the latest realignment made them half of the AFC North. While the Bengals are always the Bungles except for a glimmer of hope here and there, and the new edition of the Cleveland Browns can’t get a firm grip on anything, it’s been up to the Ravens and Steelers to keep the division respectable. Either B’More or ‘Burgh has won the division in 5 of the 6 years it has been in existence, and this year will obviously see more of the same. The two teams are constantly in the top 5 defenses in the league. Pittsburgh denied the Ravens a chance to defend their Super Bowl title, outing them in the Divisional Round in 2001. Since 2003, the season series has been the ultimate back-and-forth, with the Ravens winning 6 to the Steelers 5, with the only sweep over that time coming in 2006, when the Ravens throttled Pittsburgh 27-0, and 31-7. There is absolutely no love lost between these division rivals.
Category 3: Team Itself
I don’t know about you, but I really can’t say I HATE anybody on the 2008 Redskins. Hell, I can probably only name as many of them as I could of that ’92 Super Bowl squad. Clinton Portis cracks me up on those “Eastern Motors” commercials, Jason Campbell seems like a nice enough guy, and Jim Zorn makes me giggle with his 2nd-grader’s haircut and stupid “hip-hip-horray” chants. I guess I hate that they signed DeAngelo Hall and we didn’t. I definitely hate the egg they laid against the Steelers a few weeks back.
Do I hate the Steelers’ personnel? Wow, who don’t I hate? My hate of all things Baby Ben Roethlisberger, from his big, dumb, meathead personality to his drama queen “I’m soooo hurt, but watch me play anyway” act to football announcers fawning all over him on a first-name basis like he is their own son is the stuff of legend. Of course there is Hines “Cheap Shot” Ward, who would probably tackle me as I looked at the screen typing this if given the chance, and who is hated pretty much universally throughout the league. Troy Polamalu, bouncing around like a little sprite, makes my blood boil, especially when people are dumb enough to try to compare him to Ed Reed. I hate Santonio Holmes for stealing from his grandmother. I hate Dick LeBeau for not going off to be a head coach somewhere (again). I hate Mike Tomlin for inheriting a really good team and acting like he has something to do with it. Former Coach Bill “Spittle” Cowher was always incredibly easy to hate, and if reports surrounding the Cleveland Browns are accurate, we may soon get another chance. I hated Jerome Bettis (did you know he was from Detroit?). I hated Joey Porter. I hate them all the way to their stupid, gay mascot.
Category 4: Fans
While the Washington team may not be that easy to hate, that certainly does not go for their fans, whom I can think of several reasons to despise. Many Redskins fans live in the affluent suburbs of D.C., and look down their noses at Ravens’ fans, whom they see as blue-collar, beer-swilling hillbillies. Note that I said “many,” not “all,” but I’m sorry, when I think of a Redskins “tailgate party,” I think of red wine, cheese, and caviar. Of course, I could be wrong (Ed: Thanks to Chop for finding that video for us). Also, there is this: Many, many ‘Skins fans are our kindred spirits during the Summer months, our brothers and sisters in the misery that has become the Baltimore Orioles. But then, once the leaves turn, we go our separate ways as they shun B’More’s football team. To me, that’s unacceptable. Either you are a Baltimore (Orioles AND Ravens) fan, or you aren’t. Sure, you didn’t have a team for a long time and we let you borrow ours. Fine. But now that Peter Angelos has failed in his bid to keep the MLB out of D.C. (like Cooke before him trying to keep the NFL from Baltimore – hey, maybe our hate would be better directed to rich white men in general, but that’s another can of worms), if you want to root for the Redskins, you get the Nationals and that’s that. Keep your damn Clinton Portis jerseys the hell out of Oriole Park.
As for Steeler fans, there isn’t a group of people on this earth on whom I would more willingly wish a collective non-anesthesia aided root canal. They are truly the cockroaches of the sports world. “Oooooh, they travel soooo well,” the stupid ass announcers tell us as we watch another stadium become inexplicably swamped by ugly piss-yellow retard rags. Apparently, as we have gone over here before, all it takes is for your entire city to lose their jobs just as the football team is really good to produce a national infestation of ‘yins (You blew your chance, Detroit Lions. Hard.)
And is it just me, or do there seem to be even MORE of these towel-waving idiots since the
refs Steelers won Super Bowl XL? The networks gladly bow to their mind-bogglingly large fan base, shoving Pissburgh games down our throats with Nationally-broadcast games at a rate rivaled only by the Dallas Cowboys. Steeler fans seem to think it is their birth right to win not only the division every single year, but the conference and Super Bowl as well. Read any message board and marvel at the shock and outrage spewing from Squealer fans at anybody who dare say their team isn’t the absolute best. Man, I can’t wait for another towel-burning festival in the parking lot after the Ravens stomp them on the 14th…
Well, there you have it. According to the ratings, I have to say that I hate the Steelers more. Please, share your thoughts in the comments. Do you hate the Steelers more too? Or are you still too bitter about being told you should be a ‘Skins fan to let it go? Or, do you just think I need some anger-management therapy?