I do not know if I am able to write down such a story in English, but let's try at least.
I lived all my life in southern Brazil, in a state called Rio Grande do Sul, where we do not have the weather and the landscapes a foreigner normally knows about our country. It is a place where the beaches are ugly, the sea water is brown and cold, and, in the winter, we frequently have 32-degree temperatures.
I became a Ravens fan in the early 2000s. I was a college student of literature, which included studying North American literature and Edgar Allan Poe, who became one of my favorite American authors. I read a lot of Poe's tales and poems, and, of course, "The Raven" was one of them. I researched a little bit about Poe's life and work, which led me to get to know some things about Baltimore. So rooting for the Ravens was kind of automatic.
Just like many other Brazilians, my family shares a love of football (I mean what you call soccer). But, man, American football is growing up quickly in my country. Two TV channels broadcast eight or nine games per week with growing audiences. I subscribe to the NFL Game Pass so I don't miss a single Ravens game. It is very common to find people who have chosen a team to root for. Unfortunately, the Patriots seem to be the most popular down there, along with the Packers, Cowboys and 49ers.
You can say that any Brazilian NFL fan dreams of going to a game. In my case, everything started with my wife, Sibele's, idea of taking the kids (Victor, 5 years old, and João Lucas, 9 months old) to Orlando to visit Disney World and Universal Parks. My wife knows how big a fan I am, so she also planned to fly to Baltimore to see a game live at M&T Bank Stadium.
In January, we decided to go in September, but didn't have the Ravens schedule yet. You can imagine the good surprise when we found out the Ravens would be playing in Jacksonville right in the middle of our trip (except for cutting the chance to watch the game as a home fan).
Immediately, I bought the tickets and it was crazy to feel like it would really happen.
We arrived in America on Sept. 16, and nine days later, my dream came true. I saw my football idols right there before me: Justin Tucker, Terrell Suggs, Steve Smith Sr., John Harbaugh and, of course, The Greatest QB in Football, Mr. Joe Flacco. They all look much better live than in on a tablet screen.
I tell you with all my heart that a loss would not have bothered me. It was so thrilling just BEING THERE, you know? But the win came, and THAT Ravens kind of win. The only thing I regret is forgetting to pack my jersey. The pictures would have been so much better!
The goal now is to go to a game in Charm City and stay there for a few days. It's hard to find time and money to come to the U.S. as frequently as we would like to (this was my first time in this great country in my 36 years of life), but I can tell you that my goal will be accomplished!