Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! As the snow flurries fall down outside my window in northwest Baltimore County and SportsCenter plays repeatedly on the tube in front of me, I want to reflect on the 'gifts' that the Baltimore Ravens have given the fans of the team and the citizens of the city of Baltimore, especially the past three Christmases.
The Ravens have played meaningful games in December for four of the past five years, which is a lot more than most of the rest of the NFL team's fans in other cities can say. People get up for these games and as the week turns into the weekend, the atmosphere around town heats up even though the temperatures drop real fast.
Purple becomes the predominant color in clothing and lights. People have jobs and vendors get swamped with business as the economy definitely benefits along with the team's success. Sports-talk phone lines are jammed and winning helps add to the additional traffic that Baltimore Beatdown runs up with the continuing success of the Ravens.
With one win in the team's last two games, the Ravens will secure a post season berth for the third straight year. While they'd greatly prefer to win both games and have the Pittsburgh Steelers lose next week in Cleveland to the Browns, getting to the post season is always the team's first goal before the season begins. Six teams in each conference will still be playing once the regular season ends. The Ravens will be one of a select group that will have played in the post season the last three consecutive years. Not even the hated rival Pittsburgh Steelers can say that, as they missed out last year. The New York Jets can't equal that either, as they didn't make it in 2008. Neither did the New England Patriots.
In fact, in the AFC, if both the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers manage to make it this season, they will be the only other AFC teams to have made the playoffs in each of the three past seasons. Over in the NFC, that feat is even more rare, as only the Philadelphia Eagles will be the sole team in that conference to play in the post season all three of the past years.
Based on those stats, we should be able to clearly see how 'spoiled' us Ravens fans have become due to the team's consistent success. Each of the past three years, the Baltimore Ravens have bestowed the finest gift any NFL fan could want for their holiday season. The presents that the Ravens have left for us through their tireless and physically-demanding efforts should not go overlooked and taken for granted. So for that, along with recommending the same to you, I say to the entire Baltimore Ravens organization, from owner Steve Bisciotti down to the nameless guy who takes my ticket as I enter the stadium: "Thank you and have a very Merry Christmas!"