Five Things – 19 November 2015
Twenty years ago today, the Baltimore Stallions (“Baltimore Colts,” “Baltimore CFL Colts,” “Baltimore CFL’ers,” so on, and so on …) won the 83rd Grey Cup, defeating the Calgary Stampeders.
One could call this the climax of a two-year flirtation with Canadian football.
Even though the Stallions filled a vacuum left after the demise of the Baltimore Colts, the announcement nearly two weeks before that Art Modell and his Cleveland Browns would be moving east, meant Sunday afternoons in Baltimore would be spent with the NFL again.
It meant that the CFL’s American experiment, at least in Baltimore, would be over. Stallions owner Jim Speros would not even try to operate in what was again an NFL city. It meant he would not field a 1996 Stallions team. His franchise would be transferred to Montreal, returning the CFL to that city, to become the continuation of the Montreal Alouettes.
It meant another Baltimore team disappearing overnight.
In the midst of a terrible on-field season, the Ravens still celebrate their 20th anniversary this season. Future Ravens Hall of Famer Ed Reed will be inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor this Sunday ahead of the game vs. the St. Louis Rams (no irony there). Ed’s accomplishments for the Ravens have gained him immortal status in Baltimore and one day in Canton, alongside names like Unitas and Mackey and Marchetti.
But if you’re old enough … and you were there … you remember Tracy Ham running and throwing the way some NFL quarterbacks are praised for now. And Mike Pringle kicking up Lenny Moore’s dust. And you remember walking up into the stands at Memorial Stadium and staring at that strange 55 yard line. Feeling a sense of cognitive dissonance when a team would punt on 2nd down.
And seeing the Baltimore Colts legends there on the sidelines and feeling like this was it, this was your team. Your parents and perhaps your grandparents had the Baltimore Colts. CFL or not, the Stallions were yours.
These days, the Montreal Alouettes don’t officially consider the Stallions years as part of their history. There was never going to be a commemoration at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday. The history and accomplishments of the Baltimore Stallions are often drowned out by conversations of the NFL expansion and the controversy surrounding Art Modell’s move to Baltimore. The last time I even saw any interest was when O.J. Brigance was in the news for his heroics in his battle with ALS, as he won championships with both the Stallions and Ravens during his playing days.
I’ve said before that the 1983 Baltimore Orioles championship is often overshadowed by the end of the Baltimore Colts nearly 6 months later. In comparison, the 1995 Baltimore Stallions Grey Cup title is nearly lost, due to the emergence of the team that would eventually be named the Baltimore Ravens.
Unless you were there and unless you remember.
And if you do, you know it was more than a flirtation. It was fun. It was wacky and strange, just like Baltimore. And if you were in, you were in fully because you just knew Paul Tagliabue was shutting Baltimore out of the NFL forever. It wasn’t what our parents grew up with and I’m sure people outside of the area laughed a lot at our expense. But the team embraced Baltimore. It embraced our wacky fans and our NFL history and even helped us needle our old friends out in Indiana and in the NFL offices a little. And the Stallions won us a title.
Yet, it never sated the appetite to get back in the NFL, never got to be what it could have been, had we not awoken to the news that November morning that the NFL was coming back to town.
We never got a championship parade.
Ed Reed will indeed be inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor on Sunday.
Ray called himself the Ravens’ General. But if he was the General, Ed Reed was the Admiral, our other Joint Chief. Ray’s shadow was very wide, and Ed always shunned the spotlight as much as possible so he never got the recognition for his own leadership. If you doubt it, read this ESPN article from 2013. Ed did what Ben Zander talked about in his book The Art of Possibility, he led from his own seat.
Regardless of how much attention he never got, his stats aren’t in doubt, though. He’s an all-time great. His Canton introduction is another one I want to go to when the time comes.
When the Ravens won Super Bowl 47, I was happy that Ray had ended his career with another championship and gone out on top. But with everything Ed had physically sacrificed for his teammates, all the preparation to go out there and do what he could (making himself so respected that even greats like Manning and Brady would just not throw in his direction) even when he was almost constantly injured, I was so much happier that he’d gotten there just that once. I really wondered after the 2012 AFC Championship game if that was as close as he’d get to a title.
These college kids are getting it done. #OccupyTowson #OccupyMizzou #OccupyPrinceton
I can’t lie. All this NaNo stuff is kicking my ass. But it’s worth it.
The kick heard ’round the world. Given her lackluster performances in her first two UFC fights, I didn’t think Holly stood a chance pretty much. I figured Ronda would go in there and on aggression alone, regardless of how good Holly’s striking was, end this fight the way she’d ended most of her other UFC fights — a clinch, a hip toss, an armbar, a tapout.
Wow, was I wrong. Holly dominated her thoroughly. She kept the fight standing, where she had the advantage, and where Ronda ended up having no shot. The fight got away from Ronda pretty quickly and she never recovered. I think Ronda didn’t expect Holly to back down and fight with the poise and confidence she showed. Holly showed no fear. Holly didn’t rush her. Holly fought her own fight and in the end, put on a great win.
I was hoping for a Cyborg/Ronda fight, but if there’s going to be an immediate rematch, I’m happy for that, too. Maybe we’ll also get the rumored Miesha Tate/Cyborg fight.