Skip to main content

Kickoff Luncheon Rallies Fans


The Ravens held two yearly traditions Tuesday that mark the beginning of the upcoming season, the team picture and the team introduction.

Baltimore captured its 2008 team photo in the morning, followed by the fifth-annual Countdown to Kickoff Luncheon, sponsored by Miller Lite.

For rookie head coach John Harbaugh, who addressed a crowd at the sit-down lunch to raise proceeds for the Ravens All Community Team Foundation, the excitement leading up to this weekend's season opener with Cincinnati is palpable.

"You can feel what this fan base is like right here in this tent," Harbaugh said. "I'm excited. It's my first time. Todd Heap? He knows. Ray Lewis? He's been there before.

"But, for all the new Ravens players and coaches, Sunday at 1:00 is going to be exciting."

Held on the turf at M&T Bank Stadium, Harbaugh spent some time initiating the new Ravens in front of many distinguished guests from M&T Bank, Verizon Wireless and other team sponsors.

But before the players would don their collared shirts and sports coats, they wore purple Ravens jerseys for the full-team photo, always one of the most interesting parts of the preseason.

With guidance from the Ravens' public relations staff, the players came out of the locker room behind their Owings Mills headquarters to line up according to number on a specially-ordered six-tiered riser.

Even though the event is carefully planned, it's never easy with 62 players and 20 coaches, not to mention medical and video staff.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs is always one of the reasons why.

Last year, "Sizzle" came out in Edgar Jones' former No. 91 jersey. This year, he disrupted the shot by making a funny face every time team photographer Phil Hoffmann counted from "1" to "3."

Inspiring laughs from many of his teammates, Suggs finally settled down for the perfect picture.

After the entire team said cheese four or five times, Hoffmann captured each position with the corresponding coach. Although these extra pictures only take about five minutes, it was a mad dash to see which group gets it done first. That distinction went to Chris McAlister, Samari Rolle and the defensive backs.

As soon as the pictures finished, the Ravens headed downtown for the Kickoff Luncheon.

The 70 sponsored tables were treated to an introduction of the 2008 squad from the Ravens' radio play-by-play man Gerry Sandusky, followed by Harbaugh's thoughts as to what the fans can expect this year from his version of Baltimore football.

"We have tough players," Harbaugh said. "Strong men and good people. We're building on that foundation, not starting anything new. You hear about all these changes in everything we're doing, but it's nothing new.

"It's just good, old-fashioned football."

Harbaugh was greeted with loud cheers from the crowd, and from the reaction of the fans at the luncheon to the playful attitude of the photo shoot, it seems this team is ready for that opening kickoff.

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