With the NFL preseason off and running and college football set to kick off in just under two weeks, we figured it okay to take a slight diversion today and look at how the dark side can penetrate popular culture. In 1996, the city of Baltimore, Maryland was thirsting to host their own NFL team (after losing the Colts to Indianapolis in 1983) and the prospects tempted Cleveland Browns owner, Art Modell, to bring his team there. Cleveland did not let go without a fight and a deal was struck between the parties and the NFL to keep the team name and history of the Browns in Cleveland, while designating Modell's team as an “expansion team" or new franchise, despite keeping many of the former Browns players on the roster. Confusing, no? Well, the gist is that the former-Browns were now a new NFL franchise that was in need of a name and the city of Baltimore turned to their citizens for a vote. At long last, the city decided to name the team after the famous poem, The Raven by author Edgar Allan Poe, whose body was laid to rest inside the city limits (see Old Westminster Burial Ground).
For the first two years, the newly-formed Baltimore Ravens played in the city's Memorial Stadium, while a more permanent location was built. They finally took the field in what-is-now M&T Bank Stadium (formerly known as Ravens Stadium and PSINet Stadium) two years later. The final piece of the puzzle was put into place that year when on August 24, 1998, the team's new mascots “hatched" on the field during a preseason game with the Philadelphia Eagles (perhaps starting the ongoing feud between Philadelphia and Baltimore as the one true home of Edgar Allan Poe). The mascots were aptly named Edgar, Allan, and Poe - although apparently only the latter is still with the team to this day (are Edgar and Allan victims of the down economy?). In one more twist to the tale, the infamous Poe Toaster of Old Westminster Burial Ground shocked the city in 2001 when they left a note during their traditional visit to the author's grave that more than strongly put their support behind the New York Giants in the upcoming Super Bowl game with the Ravens. As it would turn out, they must have been sorely disappointed as the Ravens walked away with the game and the crown of Super Bowl champs with a dominating 34-7 victory.
Read more about the Ravens/Poe connection at M&T Bank Stadium.
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