The Ravens will have a special guest on their sidelines when they open the season Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Eighteen-time Olympic gold medalist and Baltimore native Michael Phelps will be honored by the team before the game. Phelps will take part in the coin toss as an honorary captain, and he will also be the final person introduced to run out of the Ravens' tunnel.
This will be Phelps' second time as an honorary captain, as the team recognized him in 2008 following his historic performance in the Beijing Olympics where he won eight gold medals.
Phelps has been a longtime Ravens fan and attended a recent practice just before the end of the preseason. He delivered a message to the team after practice and also spent several minutes visiting with his friend Ray Lewis, whom he credits with helping him regain his Olympic fire for the London Games.
Phelps is not the only local Olympian being honored Monday night. After the third quarter, the Ravens also plan to recognize David Banks (rowing, 2008), Farrah Hall (sailing, 2012), Katie Ledecky (swimming, 2012), Scott Parsons (canoe/kayak 2004, 2008, 2012), Suzanne Stettinius (modern pentathlon, 2012), Katie O'Donnell (field hockey, 2012).
The pregame ceremony will also include a tribute to former Owner Art Modell, an appearance from the Ft. McHenry Color Guard, and an Air Force flyover. At halftime, the Ravens marching band and United States Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team will perform.
During the coin toss, the officials will use the 2012 Star-Spangled Banner commemorative silver dollar. The coin marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner in Baltimore.
Arrive Early To Avoid Traffic
With the game kicking off at 7 p.m., traffic in the downtown area is expected to be congested as commuters leave work at the same time fans come downtown for the game.
The gates at M&T Bank Stadium will open up at 5 p.m., and fans are encouraged to arrive as early as possible.
To avoid some of the congestion, the organization is encouraging fans to use the less-utilized entry points such as Gate B, Gate C and the two Russell Street Gates located on either side of the ticket office. At Gate B, 10 additional entry points have been added to accommodate the crowds.
Also, stadiums around the NFL have moved to using electronic hand magnetometers for security procedures. Fans can watch the linked video to get familiar with the wanding process.