In the midst of offseason minicamps, the first thing most football players want to do is go home and rest.
Not so for a special group of Ravens that traveled from Baltimore to Ocean City, Md., this weekend for the annual Ravens Roost Convention.
Linebackers Tavares Gooden and Prescott Burgess, cornerback Evan Oglesby, and offensive linemen Marshal Yanda, Ben Grubbs and Joe Reitz were welcomed with open arms at the Castle in the Sands hotel on Friday for a weekend full of fun, food and Ravens spirit.
The group arrived just in time to be introduced in the midst of the karaoke performance and just before the skies opened up for a torrential downpour.
That didn't stop the players from having a good time, however. They know that this event is a great time to thank those fans that cheer for them on Sundays at M&T Bank Stadium.
"It's great to see the fans out here getting just as crazy as they do on game day," said Yanda. "You don't get to meet them when you're playing, so it's fun to be able to shake their hands and talk to people without your facemask on."
While Friday was basically a meet-and-greet, the purple and black fever reached a high on Saturday, as the "Marga-Ravens-Ville" parade marched down Ocean City's Johnny Unitas Way. The festivities featured performing bands, themed floats, and – of course – the players throwing out beads and signing autographs from the backs of convertibles.
According to Roost 15 president Bill West, there were more than 1,200 members registered to attend, and that doesn't include the walk-up fans that decided to join the festivities.
It seemed like each and every one of them were lining the street as the Ravens rolled down the parade route starting promptly at 10 a.m.
Floats and displays included a tribute to Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, where participants dressed up in "Wizard of Oz"-themed outfits and blared the movie's soundtrack, and an entire float built out purple cans of soda to spell out "What Time Is It."
Reitz, a former basketball player at Western Michigan, was impressed at the turnout.
"Everyone was cheering the entire parade, which was about two hours," Reitz said with a laugh. "And, we had some great fans at Western Michigan, but I signed about five kids' arms today."
One of the most telling moments was when a fan – LeRoy from Dundalk – in a No. 66 Ben Grubbs jersey ran out off the curb to ask the eponymous player to add his signature to the piece of memorabilia.
It's rare for fans to don the jersey of an offensive lineman (unless you're Jonathan Ogden), so Grubbs was proud to sign.
"I've seen a few, but it's always fun to see your jersey out there," Grubbs said. "It just goes to show how passionate our fans are. We're lucky to have them."
Note: The Council of Ravens Roosts is an organization that has supported professional football in Baltimore since 1957, when the group was officially known as the Council of Colts Corrals. Over time, the Council has followed the NFL's Baltimore Colts, the USFL's Baltimore Stars, the CFL's Baltimore Stallions and now the Ravens.