Former Browns owner Art Modell made some bad business calculations which resulted in a major loss of revenue. To recoup his losses, Modell decided to take his team to the apparent greener pastures of Baltimore. This occurred even after Cleveland voters overwhelmingly voted for a tax increase to improve the Browns home stadium.
Hundreds of lawsuits were filed and Modell was vilified. A settlement was soon reached between the NFL, Modell and the city of Cleveland. The deal stipulated that the city of Cleveland would keep the Browns’ name, colors, and history. Modell would take the players to Baltimore but leaving everything relating to the “Browns” behind. The NFL would reactivate the “Browns” in 1999 and Modell’s new Baltimore team would be considered an expansion team.
Suffice to say when the Ravens won the Super Bowl XXXV Browns fan were not very happy.
The Ravens Super Bowl winning team was coached by Brian Billick. He came to prominence in the NFL as the offensive coordinator of the record setting Minnesota Vikings. Ironically, it’s the Ravens defense that led the team to a championship and some will argue won that title in spite of their anemic offense.
The Ravens’ 2000 defensive squad, probably the best the NFL has ever seen, featured linebacker Ray Lewis, a surefire hall of famer and that year’s defensive player of the year. Also on that squad was Sam Adams, Tony Siragusa, Jamie Sharper, Peter Boulware and hall of famer Ron Woodson.
With Lewis leading the way, the Ravens held opponents to just 165 points during a 16-game regular season. That beat the 1985 Chicago Bears for fewest points in a season, they held opponents to 198 points.
The Ravens defense was so good that year they kept their team competitive even when their offense struggled. During a five game stretch the Ravens failed to score an offensive touchdown but the team still won two of those contests.
In mid-season, Billick replaced quarterback Tony Banks with veteran Trent Dilfer. While Dilfer had a reputation for being a below average quarterback he protected the ball and made plays for the team when they absolutely needed it.
Meanwhile, rookie running back Jamal Lewis rushed for 1,354 yards. The team also featured one of the game’s best tight ends, Shannon Sharpe.
In the playoffs the Ravens defeated the Denver Broncos 21-3, the Tennessee Titans 24-10 and the Oakland Raiders 16-3. They continued their amazing defensive performance in Super Bowl XXXV by defeating the New York Giants 34-7.
That game featured Ravens defensive back Duane Starks returning an interception for a touchdown. That was followed by the Giants Ron Dixon returning the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. That was followed by Jermaine Lewis returning another kickoff for a touchdown. It was the fastest three touchdowns ever scored in Super Bowl history.
Despite winning a Super Bowl, Trent Dilfer was replaced the next season by Elvis Grbac. Throughout the Ravens history they’ve had problems finding a long term solution to play under center. Besides Banks, Dilfer and Grbac, the team has also used Vinny Testaverde, Jim Harbaugh, Eric Zeier, Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright, Steve McNair, and Troy Smith.
With the exception of McNair, none of the aforementioned field generals had much success as the Ravens signal caller. McNair led the team to a franchise best 13-3 in 2006. However, the team was “out-Ravened” by the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs.
In 2008, the team hired John Harbaugh (the aforementioned Jim Harbaugh’s brother) as head coach and drafted quarterback Joe Flacco.
With a steady and competent Flacco under center and defensive back Ed Reed picking off nine passes, including one he returned for a 108-yards, the Ravens made it all the way to the AFC championship game.
With Harbaugh manning the sidelines and Flacco under center, the Ravens look to be a contender in the AFC North for years to come.
The Ravens, named after Edgar’s Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven,” play at M&T Bank Stadium. Their rivals are their AFC North division foes the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Modell’s poor business acumen would eventually result in the league forcing him to sale part of his franchise. In March of 2000 he sold 49 percent of the Ravens to Steve Biscotti. Modell sold the rest of the team to Biscotti in 2004.