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Conquer Arrives at Training Camp


Thousands of fans stood against the barricades separating the bleachers from McDaniel College's practice fields, some reaching out to slap five with Poe, the Ravens' beloved mascot.

But, the excitement level was raised when the new Ravens mascot joined the giant playful bird.

Poe was joined Monday by Conquer, the 13-week-old African white-nape raven that the team recently adopted.

Conquer and Rise, so named from a poll on, will fly out of the tunnel at M&T Bank Stadium this season, leading the team much in the same way Poe does during pregame introductions.


Monday's introduction was Conquer's inaugural appearance before Ravens fans (Rise stayed in its travel case for most of the morning), and trainer Daniel Walthers thinks it couldn't have gone any smoother.

He went up and down the line of autograph-seekers, explaining the origin and plans for these birds while letting Conquer mug for pictures with the Baltimore faithful.

"The support has been great," Walthers said. "We actually had people in the airport that knew about the birds. The fans seem to be pretty excited."

The live birds are the brainchild of team vice president of marketing Gabrielle Dow, who said that she expects at least one of the birds to take flight when the Ravens open the preseason against the Minnesota Vikings.

To prepare for the maiden journey, Walthers and his wife, Teresa, came to training camp from their exotic animal ranch in Commerce, Ga., where they used game film and loud music to simulate the atmosphere of a pregame presentation at M&T Bank Stadium.

They are also training the birds to fly past the distance they would need to perform each weekend.

"We're flying Conquer about 300 feet right now, and when he flies at the stadium, it's only going to be about 150-180 feet from the tunnel to the 50-yard line," Walthers said. "We're building up their strength, just like you would an athlete."

At this point, the strategy seems to have worked. Conquer played along with the fans, dancing up and down on Walthers' arm while chomping down treats.

The highlight of the morning came when the bird joined the post-practice huddle, perching on head coach John Harbaugh.

The reaction from the players was mixed. Some of them stepped back in apprehension, but once Conquer was deemed friendly, several came over to hold the bird, including wideout Derrick Mason, cornerback Ronnie Prude, kicker Matt Stover and defensive tackle Salomon Solano.

To break the huddle, Salomon held Conquer high, and the entire team yelled "Ravens!" before retreating to their position groups. Such a warm welcome was inspiring to Walthers.

"It's been unbelievable the way everybody's treated him," Walthers explained. "I was really impressed by how he wasn't stressed out at all. If there was any time when he would have been a little freaked out, it would have been the huddle. He was really perfect."

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