Eisenberg: Super Bowl Wins Transform Franchises


PLEASE NOTE:The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.


And if you think their run to the Vince Lombardi Trophy a decade ago isn't still paying dividends, think again.

A Super Bowl triumph is a transformative event for a franchise, especially a relatively young franchise, as the Ravens are. It stamps you as a capable organization that can get to the top, as opposed to an organization that has never made it and might not know how.

And that stamp of credibility is indelible. It never goes away.

If you don't have it, your life in pro football is that much grimmer.

You can divide up the NFL's 32 teams in countless ways – those that are playoff-worthy and those that aren't, those that have elite quarterbacks and those that don't, etc.

But the biggest fault line separates those that have won Super Bowls and those that haven't.

Eighteen of the 32 have made it to the top. Fourteen are still trying to prove they can do it.

You don't want your team residing in the latter group.

The Eagles are in there, much to the dismay of fans in Philadelphia. The Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns are in there, too, despite having fielded teams for decades.

The Detroit Lions, in business since 1929, have never even been to a Super Bowl, much less won one.

Every year these teams fail to achieve the ultimate goal, the gloom is that much darker because their history is so insufficient. A sense of fatalism eventually sets in. Maybe it's never going to happen, people say.

But if you have experienced the exhilaration of cheering as your team holds up the Lombardi trophy and confetti drops, you know it's possible. You have that memory. You're aware you can win a Super Bowl in reality, not just in your dreams.

In the Ravens' case, everything they accomplish – or don't accomplish – looks better because they beat the Giants in Tampa a decade ago.

Their record of seven playoff appearances in 11 years is much more satisfying and legitimate because one of the appearances led to a Super Bowl win.

That 7-4 playoff road record shines that much brighter because three of the wins came on the road to victory in Super Bowl XXXV.

And crushing playoff losses such as the one the Ravens experienced in Pittsburgh two weeks ago are somehow easier to swallow because the Ravens, as opposed to the Eagles and those others, have experienced Super Bowl glory. As disappointing as it is, their credibility is not at stake.

Bottom line (do I sound like someone?), winning a Super Bowl elevates you, and there's no going back.

Granted, it can turn on you if you're not careful. Fans of teams such as the Raiders and Redskins are no longer assuaged by their teams' multiple Super Bowl victories several decades ago. They're just tired of the wheel-spinning mediocrity into which those teams have sunk.

But it's better to have that elevated history and those raised expectations instead of no Super Bowl memories at all.

The Ravens' moment of glory was like a thunderbolt on a sunny afternoon. It came out of nowhere. They were unsettled at quarterback. They had a rookie running back. They had never posted a winning record since moving from Cleveland.

But they survived a midseason slump, pulled themselves together and started rolling over people. It was "pinch-me" hard to believe at first because nothing had come before it, but once they got to Tampa, they were unstoppable. That week, an assortment of experts privately told me the game wasn't going to be close. The Ravens were better by far.

Their 34-7 victory forever changed the tenor of Baltimore's new pro football life. It's more hopeful, more positive, more fun because of what happened a decade ago.

The Ravens, to their credit, have followed it up by developing into a sound upper-echelon team, a perennial contender, unlike the Raiders and Redskins.

They haven't won another Super Bowl, but the gift of that first one continues to give.

John Eisenberg *covers the Ravens for Comcast SportsNet Baltimore. He worked in the newspaper business for 28 years as a sports columnist, with much of that time coming at the Baltimore Sun. While working for the Sun, Eisenberg spent time covering the Ravens, among other teams and events, including the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series and Olympics. Eisenberg is also the author of seven sports-themed books.*

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content