Sadly, the Baltimore Ravens saw their season come to a close during the NFL's wild-card weekend. That means there are eight teams left vying for Super Bowl glory, and since the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to eliminate themselves this year, we can't even root for our second favorite team. (Yeah, the team that's playing against the Steelers. It's not a cliché joke. It's literally what we'd be doing. And it's a cliché joke. That's Derwin James-level versatility.)
So I've done this the last couple of years in the playoffs. Let's try to figure out who Ravens fans should now root for and, perhaps adopt as "their team" for the next month. I'll eliminate teams one at a time until we only have one left.
First team eliminated: New England Patriots
This one is obvious. Even if we're no longer threatened by the Patriots the same way we used to be, America needs another New England Super Bowl appearance about as much as the Orioles need ANOTHER player who's an AAAA-caliber talent with no real position and a .236 career on-base percentage in the minor leagues. May the Chargers beat them by 1,000 touchdowns.
Second team eliminated: Dallas Cowboys
This is a weird feeling. The majority of Ravens fans can't stand the Washington Redskins, so you'd think this would be an "enemy of my enemy is my friend" type of deal. But not with the Cowboys. They're insufferable. They somehow still have fans all over the country, this despite having half as many playoff wins as the friggin' Jets since the turn of the century.
Plus the national media just can't keep it in its pants whenever the Cowboys are relevant. Every ESPN show was broadcasting live from Dallas last week. If they somehow host the NFC Championship Game, every other network will join them. They'll have the damn Bubble Guppies in 10-gallon hats. Jimmy Fallon will be "singing" a song called "Goalpost to Be" while dressed up as a character called "Amari-on."
We can't allow any of this to happen.
Third team eliminated: Indianapolis Colts
This one is perhaps the toughest one because if it weren't the friggin' Colts, you'd be inclined to root for this team. We've all lost a few hours of time in our lives reading Captain Luck's postcards to his Dearest Mother. Head coach Frank Reich is an all-time great Maryland Terrapin (and actually WANTED to come home and try to fix the program a few years ago … that still stings). They have incredible young talent like left guard Quenton Nelson and linebacker Darius Leonard. THERE'S SO MUCH TO LIKE.
But alas, they're still the franchise that stole the colors … and uniforms … and history. And even absurdly
stole more of Baltimore's history
they had nothing do with. And
is still very much his father's son.
Perhaps you're "over it." But think for a second about sitting down to watch the playoffs with your late grandfather. Imagine telling him you were rooting for the Indianapolis Colts. Now duck.
Yep. Find another team. And pull up your pants already.
Fourth team eliminated: Kansas City Chiefs
Obviously, no Ravens fan could root for a team that was willing to employ someone who had committed such a heinous act until they saw surveillance footage they clearly weren't all that concerned about finding despite the seriousness of the allegations and oh … right. Yeah. This is awkward.
Sure, it's entertaining watching Patrick Mahomes make throws so miraculous that I have to assume that if there's rain in the forecast in Kansas City this weekend he could probably turn it into wine. But the Kareem Hunt stuff -- combined with Tyreek Hill also being a pretty terrible person, too -- is enough that we should probably pass.
Fifth team eliminated: Philadelphia Eagles
I know quarterback Nick Foles' story is one of the best in recent football history. It's easy to get caught up in that and root for him. Plus, he's got that other thing going for him and you have to tip your cap.
(He played on the same high school team as Justin Tucker. What did you think I was talking about?)
But have you talked to an Eagles fan in the last 11 months? Floyd Mayweather thinks they could probably come down a peg or two. I'd rather see another Bird Box meme than deal with an Eagles fan after back-to-back titles.
Sixth team eliminated: Los Angeles Chargers
I noticed a lot Ravens fans suggesting they'd go on to root for quarterback Philip Rivers the rest of the way despite him eliminating the Ravens from the postseason. I get it. He's the one player left in the postseason whose otherwise potential Hall of Fame career is only missing a Super Bowl title. (Well, Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, too, actually. Sometimes you forget about that because, you know, he's 97 years old.)
But you'd still be rooting for a team owned by a man (Dean Spanos) who ripped his beloved franchise out a city with an adoring fan base and took them to another place where no one seems to know they exist. I'll pass on supporting any billionaire who screwed over a city because they couldn't hold them hostage for public money.
And that leaves us with: Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints
I'm going to tell you that I'd probably be OK with a Ravens fan adopting either of our final nominees. The Rams are easy to like. Not only to they have the
second-dreamiest head coach in the league, their roster is chocked full of local players.
Superstar running back Todd Gurley is a Baltimore native and huge Orioles fan. Safety Blake Countess grew up in Owings Mills before attending Good Counsel. Replace that with "Mt. Airy" and "Linganore" for tackle Rob Havenstein. And rookie linebacker Micah Kiser is not only from Charm City, he used to play for Biff Poggi at Gilman.
You might as well call them the Maryland Rams, honestly.
But I think the actual answer is probably the Saints. It's not just because quarterback Drew Brees is one of the great gentlemen in the history of the game and has taken opportunities to show deference toward Johnny Unitas as he's smashed all of his records.
It's not just because tight end Benjamin Watson is one of the most incredible human beings to have ever come through the Ravens organization, and I'd be really happy to see him win another title before he retires at the end of the year.
It's not just because the Saints did the Ravens (and the world) a solid and beat the Steelers in Week 16 to give Baltimore a division title and Pittsburgh a massive dumpster fire.
It's not just because I just spent another week in New Orleans (my favorite American city) in 2018 and devoured Brandon Williams' weight in Coop's jambalaya and Abita beer.
It's because there's no Super Bowl winner I'd be happier for than Saints offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod.
The former Towson Tiger helped the Saints win their first Super Bowl title a few years back, so sure, he's been there and done that. But this October, Bushrod (the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner) tragically lost a daughter just a week after she was born. I think about Bushrod still wearing the hospital bracelet after returning to the team -- knowing this is probably the end of his NFL run as well -- and yeah, that's the guy that I'm rooting for.
So come on Baltimore. Let's Geaux Saints.
Follow Glenn Clark on Twitter @GlennClarkRadio
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