My name is Bryan Anthony Davis. I was born in the football-glorious 1970s in Western Pennsylvania and raised on Jack Fleming, pierogies, Polish sausage and Art Rooney's Pittsburgh Steelers. I bleed black and gold to the extent that I pray that I don't get into a medical situation so severe in my resident state of Maryland because a transfusion containing suitable blood may not be available to save my life. I swear that my belly button is the exact dimension and shape of a hypocycloid. My children were wrapped in Terrible Towels mere minutes after entering this world. I once kicked my 77 year-old neighbor out of my apartment for destroying our mojo because her congratulatory visit came too early and her butt hit the chair the exact moment Jerome Bettis fumbled against the Colts in the 2006 Divisional Playoffs (thankfully she understood, but more important...Nick Harper's wife stabbed him in the leg allowing Ben to make that tackle). I've sent autograph requests to the likes of Frank Pollard, Lupe Sanchez and Najeh Davenport and I even unsuccessfully tried to convince my wife to let me play "Renegade" as mood music for intimate interludes.
I love my team, I pledge to go to crazy lengths to exhibit my fandom and will never abandon them. But I am about to do the unthinkable, the unfathomable and the unacceptable. I am prepared to commit Steel City Treason. For the rest of 2015, I will also be rooting for (gulp!) the Baltimore Ravens. And as heinous and incomprehensible as it may sound, you really should too.
This decision has not been received well by my friends and family. My father, a truly compassionate and level-headed man, chastised me last week for showing empathy for Raven fans feeling despondent over the devastating and season-ending injuries that Joe Flacco and Justin Forsett succumbed to last week. My wife looked at me yesterday and muttered the phrase, "I don't even know who you are anymore" and my dachshund, Heinz, won't even look at me even armed with a full box of Snausages. If the closest people in my life don't agree with my rationale on this, Heaven knows the extent of the wrath I will sustain from the critical keyboards of the likes of Steel Gator or Bamameister. But I stand by my decision.
I do feel the need to be perfectly clear that I still abhor John Harbaugh and his dirty band of misfits with every fiber of my being. I will not be donning purple and I will never cease to raise my middle finger every single time that I pass M&T Bank Stadium while entering the Charm City or halt referring to them as the "Voldemort Ratbirds". But I must be sensible. I must will them to win. I need to think of the greater good of my team and look further down the boulevard.
When faced with a down year, Raven fans do what they always seem to do...they abandon ship faster than you can say "Lardarius Webb". I have a good friend that's a season ticket holder and claims that he can't name five guys on the roster now and he's a loyal fan. The best of the bunch are rooting for losses in hopes of getting a top-tier pick in the 2016 Draft. Where's the pride? As much as I would love to see my team compensate for a bad year with a great pick, I just can't stomach that sick feeling in my heart, soul and gut when my team falters. I can't ever root for my team to lose.
I do, sort of, understand the logic and this very avenue of thought is the reason that I want Baltimore to emerge victorious in every contest except their 12/27 outing against Pittsburgh. The ultimate reason is that there is one Raven that I fear and actually respect more than any other. His name is Ozzie Newsome and if anyone can turn a funeral into a party and exploit/reverse this bad fortune, it is that guy.
Newsome is already a Hall of Famer due to his 13-year career as a tight end in Cleveland. Quite frankly, I feel his track record as the Baltimore GM is even more impressive than his prowess on the field. Since 2002, Newsome has made personnel decisions for Baltimore and has rarely missed, especially with his number-one picks. Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Ben Grubbs, Joe Flacco, Michael Oher, Jimmy Smith, Matt Elam and C.J. Mosley were all first-rounders since 2002, under Newsome's watch. He only completely whiffed on Kyle Boller and Mark Clayton, but that is still a pretty impressive percentage of successful selections.
If Newsome were handed a a top-five selection, his evaluation of talent gives them a better chance than any to land a 15-year, franchise player. Names already being bandied about for Baltimore are powerhouses like DE Joey Bosa, DT Robert Nkemdiche, DB Jalen Ramsey and OT Laremy Tunsil. I'd rather not see any of these standouts decked-out in the black-eye combination of black and purple. But most of all, I don't want to see the next Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis or Ed Reed land in B-More.
As a Steeler fan, I'd much rather see them end 8-8 and pick in the mid-first round. Thus my six week pledge of allegiance to them. It's not going to be easy though. Their remaining schedule is not very conducive to my plan. The next two weeks at Cleveland and Miami are winnable, but their final four games include playoff-contending Seattle, Kansas City, Pittsburgh (the one game we want them to lose) and Cincinnati. Here's to hoping that Matt Schaub, Buck Allen and Kamar Aiken shine like the dual suns of Tatooine.
There's no denying that this feels dirty. Watching them lose on a last-ditch field goal to hapless Jacksonville felt awesome at first, but the feeling faded fast when I thought about Joey Bosa wearing a purple lid at the podium in the Spring. I am not proud of what I must do. But as sweet as it feels watching them lose, I am resigned to the fact that this year only...I'd much rather watch them lose by winning.