20 Ravens Relics In 20 Years: Give Baltimore The Ball


"20 Ravens Relics In 20 Years" is a series celebrating the team's 20th anniversary that will tell the story behind 20 key objects in franchise history. The stories and photos of the relics will be unveiled before each 2015 game. Fans can view all of the items featured in our Ravens Relics series on permanent display at the Sports Legends Museum and in an interactive display on Ravens Walk before every home game.

From the time the Colts left town in the middle of the night in 1983, Baltimore fans were hungry for the return of NFL football.

Baltimore is a town that loves its football, and that thirst was palpable when the NFL gave the city a test run in the summer of 1992. The league scheduled a preseason game between the Dolphins and the Saints in Baltimore, and the local fans responded by packing Memorial Stadium with a sellout crowd.

"One more time, Memorial Stadium was the world's largest outdoor insane asylum," read the lead of Ken Murray's game story in The Baltimore Sun the next day. 

The game was part of a campaign to bring a team to Baltimore, and the fans demonstrated their desire for the NFL to return to Charm City.  For the next few years, fans, politicians and city leaders pitched the NFL on why it should "Give Baltimore the Ball."

"That was a battle cry," said John Ziemann, president of the Ravens band and deputy director of internal affairs for the Sports Legends Museum.

Despite the success of that preseason game in 1992, the NFL passed on Baltimore when it expanded the league by two teams in 1995, instead going with Carolina and Jacksonville. Baltimore had to wait until 1996 for the NFL to return, 13 years after the Colts had fled town.

A person instrumental in getting Art Modell to move his franchise to Baltimore was John Moag, the chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority. Moag met with multiple owners and NFL executives over the years about getting a team in Baltimore, and that work paid off when Modell's team came to town in 1996.

When the Ravens opened their new stadium two years later, Moag had the honor of "giving Baltimore the ball." He trotted onto the field to deliver officials the football during the pre-game festivities to open the new Ravens Stadium, and the duffle bag used to carry the football now sits at the Sports Legends Museum.

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