The Baltimore Ravens are the stepchild of the NFL because according to league authorities, the team should have never existed. But a stubborn team owner and furious fans threw a spanner in the authorities’ works.
In 1995 Art Modell, the owner of the Cleveland Browns, announced that he would move his team to Baltimore, a city which didn’t have an NFL team since the Baltimore Colts left eleven years earlier. The city which had been defeated in the elections for the two expansion teams for 1995 by Charlotte and Jacksonville two years earlier was happy, but the fans in Cleveland were angry. Along with political leaders in Cleveland, they organized a campaign against the move, which could only be resolved with a compromise: Modell received a new franchise for Baltimore, while the Cleveland Browns should be resurrected in a new stadium in Cleveland after a three year absence. With the new team Baltimore Ravens the divisional structure was screwed up again after it had been adjusted for the two expansion teams Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars only one year earlier. Another expansion step was necessary – to the delight of football fans in Houston.
The name of the new team was inspired by literature and based on the story “The Raven” by Baltimore’s greatest son, the writer Edgar Allen Poe. Consequently, because of that the three Ravens mascots are called Edgar, Allen and Poe.
Unlike other expansion teams, the Baltimore Ravens were able to count on the entire former Browns team and they won their first championship game in the AFC North against the Oakland Raiders with 19:14. For the first head coach of the Ravens, Ted Marchibroda, it was a return to his work-place: From 1975 to 1979 he coached the Baltimore Colts.
For the 1999 season, Brian Billick was hired as the new head coach. As offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, he had been responsible for the team the year before, which had set an NFL record for most points in one season. However, in Baltimore the defense dominated – led by linebacker Ray Lewis – and ironically the offensive genius Billick became the head of a team that set an NFL record for the least points allowed in a season in 2000. During this time, it was great to watch Baltimore Ravens games and the good defence paved the way for the greatest success in the short history of the Ravens: a 34:7 victory over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.
In subsequent years, the Baltimore Ravens were regular playoff contenders, especially after they had committed John Harbaugh as the new head coach in 2008. Under him, the Ravens reached the post season in the first five seasons. And even more: Every year they won at least one playoff game. Twelve years after winning the their title, the Ravens were able to repeat their success: In Super Bowl XLVII they faced the San Francisco 49ers, who were coached by John’s younger brother, Jim, and won the exciting duel with 34:31.