One of the unique aspects of Baltimore is its love for football.
Even though the Colts are now in Indianapolis, the city still cherishes the history of the old Baltimore Colts, with many fans considering the Ravens an extension of the team that used to play in Charm City.
So when former Colts defensive tackle Art Donovan died on Sunday, at the age of 88, it affected both the young and old fans of the city. Donovan was the first Colt to enter the Hall of Fame, which makes it almost eerie that he passed the weekend the first Raven, Jonathan Ogden, entered the same hall.
When the Ravens arrived in 1996, they embraced the old Colts from the onset, with the old Colts recripocating the love. After all, a giant statue of Johnny Unitas is posited in front of M&T Bank Stadium.
Outside of being known as "The Bulldog" on game days, Donovan was known for his humor. He loved to tell jokes and enjoyed company, those that knew him said.
After Monday's practice, Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters a story about Donovan and his father, Jack Harabugh.
"About four years ago, they had an alumni dinner at the Hyatt before one of our games," Harbaugh said. "My dad was in town, and he had heard that Art Donovan was going to be there and [former Colts tight end] Jim Mutscheller and some of those guys. He just wanted to see if he could meet them. So, I think [senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne] took my dad down and sat him down at the table there, and he had a bucket of Schlitz on ice there.
"My dad knows Schlitz real well from his days in Crestline, Ohio. He’s familiar with Schlitz. My grandpa drinks Stroh’s, so that’s a good combination -- Schlitz and Stroh’s -- especially if you want a headache in the morning.They drank Schlitz’s all night. Art was telling stories, and my dad probably told a few stories, too. He can tell a story, too. And they really hit it off real well, so it was my hope to spend time with both of those two guys -- Art and Jim -- here. I just can’t believe … We were planning on doing that within a week or so, so I just can’t believe that happened out of the blue like that. But, [Donovan was a] great man, great Baltimore tradition, and he’ll live on in our hearts forever.”
The Ravens flew their flags at half-staff on Monday in honor of Donovan's legacy in Baltimore. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, a Colts fan growing up, issued his own statement after learning of Donovan's death.
“We lost a friend, one of the finest men and one of the greatest characters we were fortunate to meet in this community and in this business," Bisciotti said. "Baltimore is now without one of its best and someone who was a foundation for the tremendous popularity of football in our area. The world is not as bright tonight because we lost someone who could make us all smile.”
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