Local Raven fans fired up over team's face-off with 49ers BY DAVID O'CONNOR, Staff Writer
Kristen Simon was in New Orleans in November to watch two pro football teams play at the Superdome.
As she left the stadium that day, she never imagined that her favorite team, the Baltimore Ravens, would be in New Orleans for the 2013 Super Bowl just a few months later.
"I don't think anyone would have predicted this, not in a million years," she says.
Meanwhile, William "Smokey" Glover of Lancaster Township remembers "wanting in on the ground floor" of a new team when the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens in 1995-96.
He was an original season-ticket and seat owner for the new team.
"And I've seen some 4-and-12 seasons and a few tough losses," he says.
But the patience of Simon, general manager of the Lancaster Barnstormers baseball team, and Fulton Financial Corp. official Glover, a former McCaskey High School football star, is now being rewarded.
The Ravens have overcome injuries, a late-season losing streak and other adversity to make it all the way to the Super Bowl on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
And Simon, Glover and Barnstormers' team president Lisa Riggs are just a few of the growing number of Ravens fans in Lancaster County enjoying the ride.
A mere 80 miles from Lancaster by car, Baltimore's pro football team still trails the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers, and probably a few other teams, in overall popularity here.
But if the Ravens keep going like this, who knows?
"This really has been a dream come true," says Glover, who is in New Orleans and has secured tickets to the big game.
The Ravens came within one heartbreaking play of the Super Bowl a year ago, "and to be able to get back, to block everything out, after what we went through last year, I think that speaks about the team's perseverance, I think that speaks about sacrifice" and other attributes a champion needs, he says.
Glover even has a "Raven Cave" in the basement of his home on Ranck Mill Road.
To create the Raven shrine, Glover commissioned a top student at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design.
The guy went to town, creating a border with a Raven logo and purple-and-black colors, and established a "Ravens Hall of Fame" on one wall while adding other touches.
There's also a picture of Glover and his father, retired Lancaster school administrator Leon "Buddy" Glover, watching the Ravens win their only Super Bowl in 2001 in Tampa, and another more recent photo of Smokey Glover with his hero, Ravens' all-star linebacker Ray Lewis, who's retiring after Sunday's game.
The Ravens play what Riggs calls "sort of the old, gritty style of football."
"Everyone talks about the Ravens' defense," he says. "We're not flashy. We just play a sort of old-school football."
Riggs became a fan while attending Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, while Simon is from Crofton, Md., and grew up in a family of Colts fans who switched their allegiance to the Ravens.
Glover grew up an Eagles' fan, but got tired of them breaking his heart, he says.
Glover and his father also have an allegiance to New Orleans, which developed after they were stranded there during Hurricane Katrina, just after the Ravens had played an exhibition game against the hometown Saints.
Simon hasn't taken chances with the Ravens' success in the playoffs, wearing a number-27 Ray Rice jersey -- Rice is the Ravens' star running back -- even after it picked up an unknown food stain.
"You can't wash it because you can't mess with it" --"it" meaning fate, she says.
Just as the team's Super Bowl win did 12 years ago, this year's Ravens' run to the title game has helped boost team merchandise sales.
At places such as Bob's Sports at Park City Center, you'll find everything from a Ray Rice numbered shirt to team hats and rally towels.
You also might find employee Stephanie Faus wearing Ravens' gear, even though she's a diehard Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan.
The Ravens are well ahead of the 49ers in merchandise sales at her store, Faus says.
Still, the Ravens have a long way to go to top the Steelers -- Baltimore's bitter rivals -- and even teams such as the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins to become the store's merchandise champs, Faus says.
The Ravens' Super Bowl appearance also could boost interest at local sports bars and restaurants Sunday -- although not as much as an Eagles-Steelers championship game would, according to local restaurant people.
"Now, that would be a dream for a sports bar," one says.
The Station House Tavern, 1335 Fruitville Pike, is having a Super Bowl party.
For $35 ($40 Sunday at the door), customers get a full buffet, drinks and a chance to win door prizes, including a flat-screen TV and $200 in gift cards. For details, call 490-6676.
And there's no doubt what will be on the eight big TV screens Sunday evening at Columbia's Union Station Grill. That's because part-owner Dan Scarberry is a Baltimore-area native and diehard Ravens fan who's thankful for what he calls "a very magical year."
"We've overcome a lot of adversity, a lot of injuries," says Scarberry who was 13 when the Colts left Baltimore.
He had to wait 12 years until the football-loving city got another team.
"And this being Ray's last ride makes it all the more special," Scarberry said.