The Colts were gone, and with the exception of the brief existences of the USFL's Baltimore Stars and the CFL's Baltimore Stallions, Baltimore went without football for 13 years. Fans had no team to cling to in Baltimore and had to cling to the closest team available.
The NFL consistently spurned Baltimore's bid for a new franchise, instead giving football to Carolina and Jacksonville. Things weren't looking good for Baltimore.
That all changed when Art Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore, under the condition that the city of Cleveland would get to keep the team name, colors, logo, band, and history.
Baltimore had a team and they had a band, but they had no colors.
The name Ravens was selected in a fan voting contest and the jersey and logo came later.
On Sunday, September 1st, 1996 old Memorial Stadium was hosting an NFL team for the first time in 13 years. The newly formed Ravens were hosting the Oakland Raiders.
The Ravens would score first on a nine yard touchdown run from Vinny Testaverde, but the Raiders would respond with two touchdown passes from quarterback Billy Joe Hobert to Tim Brown. The third quarter had kicker Matt Stover gnaw away at the Raiders' lead with two field goals and running back Earnest Byner would score the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. The final score was Ravens 19-14 and football was back in earnest.
While the Ravens would field the worst defense in franchise history and while the team's record was a franchise worst 4-12, Baltimore had an NFL team that would go on to become one of the NFL's best and a beloved part of our lives.