December 16, 2008
By Patrick Cartwright
I hate the Ravens.
I abhor and disdain them.
I loathe, despise, and detest them.
But I respect them.
Not as individuals. On their defense, they have a linebacker who, more likely than not, was involved in a murder. They have another linebacker that tells the media they put bounties on opposing players in order to injure them. They have a player who spit in a kicker’s mouth. And another player who so delighted in the fact that when he sacked Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger he “felt the breath leave his body”, that he felt the need to brag about it to the national media. To call the Ravens a bunch of thugs would be unfair and offensive to thugs.
So how can a Steelers fan respect a group so heinous? A group that I wouldn’t let inside my house without a national guard regiment present. A group that makes my skin crawl. A group that undoubtedly gets together in the offseason to drown kittens, strangle puppies, and plot to bring back the Macarena?
Because they play the game the way it should be played.
The Baltimore Ravens play the game with intensity and vitriol. They run the ball down your throat. They trust their young , confident QB. They control the clock. And they play a punishing style of defense that leaves the other team’s offense battered, broken down, and wondering how much time is left before they can get on the bus and get the hell out of town. They play good old-fashioned smash-mouth football.
It’s the exact same way the Steelers organization has played for the past 40 years, ever since Chuck Noll took a losing team and molded them into a dynasty. And it’s the way the Ravens have played since the day that Art Modell pulled the midnight switch on Cleveland and bussed the team to the East Coast. Just another reason to hate the Ravens. They used to be the Browns. But even so, you have to respect the way they go about playing the game, even if you don’t like it. Even if you don’t like them.
The best enemies are always the ones that are slightly distorted reflections of the hero. Wolverine and Sabertooth. Green Lantern and Sinestro. Spiderman and Venom. It’s the same with the Steelers and Ravens. They play the same style of football, and they play it the same way. Both teams have a QB that has been a rookie phenom, playing well beyond his years. Both have an All-World game-changing safety. Each has an old man that just happens to be the most reliable receiver on his team. Each has punishing linebackers who regularly put the opposing quarterback on his back. Since the AFC North was founded in 2002, with the exception of the 2005 Bengals, only the Steelers and Ravens have won the division. They have both won a Super Bowl this decade. Ravens Coach Jim Harbaugh is in his first year at the position. The Steelers’ Mike Tomlin has been at it twice as long, currently coaching in his second year.
If the NFL was a soap opera (and with the likes of T.O., Chad Ocho Cinco, and Pacman Jones in the league, who’s to argue that it isn’t?), the Ravens would be the Steelers’ evil twin. Nobody knows the Steelers better. Nobody plays them harder. No other team has been as much a thorn in the Steelers’ sides as the carrion birds from Baltimore.
From a Steelers fan’s perspective, looking at the Ravens is like looking at the Steelers in a dirty, grungy, distorted mirror. You don’t like what you see. You don’t want to admit that what you’re looking at may well be everything you love filtered through a different light. When you look at the Ravens, from an organizational and team standpoint, you’re just looking at a thugged-out version of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Did the truth of that just make you throw up in your mouth a little? Me too.
Like them? No way.
You have to. Right?
(If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment below. Also, please subscribe to our blog by pressing the orange button below. Thanks.)