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They've Got Her. We've Got Stavvy

From left: Comedian Stavros Halkias, Singer Taylor Swift
From left: Comedian Stavros Halkias, Singer Taylor Swift

As soon as Ravens fans knew their team was facing the Chiefs in the AFC Championship, the battle of the celebrities began.

It's Taylor Swift vs. Stavros Halkias. Or in other words …

"Do you want a billionaire international pop star?" Stavros said. "Or do you want a fat, balding man who is barely a celebrity by the most charitable standards and lives and dies with his team? Those are your options here, folks."

There are more famous Ravens celebrities such as Michael Phelps or Carmelo Anthony. But right now, there may be nobody that personifies Baltimore better than Stavros. And with the Swift show coming to town, fans are holding up Stavvy like a badge of honor.

For those who don't know, Stavros, or Stavvy, or Ronnie (his Ravens superfan character), is a comedian. He currently has his second comedy special, "Fat Rascal," on Netflix.

They're both 34 years old, but believe it or not, there are a few differences between Stavros and Swift. The most important, at least for this story, is their football roots.

Swift was born and raised in Reading, Pa., and was an Eagles fan before she started dating Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. Now she's decked out in red and there's a throng of new football fans watching Chiefs games, breathlessly waiting for any shot of Swift walking into the stadium or cheering in a luxury suite.

Stavros, on the other hand, is Ravens through and through. He was born in Baltimore and grew up in Greektown, in southeast Baltimore.

He remembers vividly when the Ravens arrived in town in 1996, remembers the process of naming the team, and attending a pass, punt, and kick competition to introduce kids to the players. The 7-year-old kid caught passes from Vinny Testaverde and got kicking pointers from Matt Stover.

Though his Greek family was more into soccer, Stavros had taken a liking to football (and Randy Moss) from watching Thanksgiving games at his family friends' houses. When the Ravens came to town, he was hooked.

The love only grew deeper when the Ravens won their first Super Bowl in 2000 when Stavros was in sixth grade. He was, of course, a big Tony Siragusa fan.

"As a chubby little Greek kid to see a big, fat Italian guy who is charismatic and all over the place, he was my guy," said Stavros, who is trying to get a Siragusa jersey as we speak.

"I was one of the only white kids at my school. If there's a fat, white celebrity, believe me, I got called that guy. When we were playing pickup football those years – sixth grade, seventh grade – everybody called me Goose."

Stavros went on to play nose tackle at Poly, where his claim to fame was getting a sack in the City-Poly high school football game played at M&T Bank Stadium. Well, at least that's what the PA announcer called out, except Stavros wasn't even on the field. He still took credit for it though. After all, he was on hallowed ground. He wasn't going to let a little statistical error ruin his story.

"It's only recently that I've admitted it," he said. "I've accomplished enough that I don't have to use that to fuel my ego anymore. I can admit that I did not actually get the sack."

The Ravens won their second Super Bowl when he was in college at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, which is also where his comedy career started. The Ravens franchise's marquee milestones all hit him at the perfect ages.

"The team getting here hit me at the right time as a little kid. We were kind of [crappy] for a few years, but when you're a little kid you don't know any better," he said.

"And then that 2000 run happened and you're in sixth grade and it's very formative and you're still a little kid with all that enthusiasm. That was an incredible run. And then by the time they won the second Super Bowl, I was in college, I was getting [messed] up afterwards."

While his comedy career was still in its infancy, Stavros worked at a Sherwin Williams paint store in Baltimore. That's where he picked up his "Ronnie" Dundalk Baltimore accent, he says, from listening to contractors that came into the store.

"The girl who I was dating at the time was like, 'You have to stop. I don't know where you end and this character starts,'" Stavros said.

He moved to New York City after that to pursue his comedy dreams and kind of lost touch with the character. That was until a couple years ago when he started posting occasional YouTube videos as "Ronnie" reacting to Baltimore sports happenings. It took off, and for the past two seasons, he's done a reaction after every game.

"This was not my end game," he said. "I was basically just blowing off a little steam making these videos."

The combination of his stand-up career doing so well, along with the Ravens having such a magical season, has once again led to perfect timing for Stavros. Last month, he was interviewed on "The Rich Eisen Show" and the "LeBatard Show."

The Ravens collaborated with him before the Dolphins game and the clip blew up. So they invited him back again last week for the divisional playoff game against the Texans. He got to meet Geno Stone, ran into Justin Tucker (who had seen his videos) in an elevator, told Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald not to take any more head coaching interviews, and more.

"It's completely surreal," Stavvy said. "I never thought when I made an ignorant caricature of a Baltimore Ravens fan that that would be the thing that was like, 'Yeah, the organization is going to love this.'

"To their credit, all the Ravens people I have talked to, they have such a great sense of humor and have been so cool to work with. Obviously, I can't do the completely uncensored version, but it's not like they're trying to change the character. It's how we can find a nice middle ground that works for us while still being really funny."

Stavvy is more likely to challenge Jason Kelce to a beer-chugging contest (he actually does want to) than wear a custom-made jacket from former Raven Kyle Juszczyk's wife, Kristin, but he hopes to get equal treatment come Sunday for the AFC Championship. Stavvy will be performing the night before in Dallas but is catching a 6 a.m. flight to Baltimore to make the game.

"I'm hoping to, within the next four days, become an international pop star and fight fire with fire," he said. "I'm going to come out there in my finest purple camo pants and channel the energy of a true Ravens fan.

"You know with elections how the TV station has to offer equal time to each political party? All I want CBS is let me get a shot and then have you go to Taylor. Or get Real Fan Dan on there. Or some guy who is wearing a full mask because he's on parole and isn't technically supposed to be on there. Let's get some real Baltimore fans. I just want equal coverage. We have the best fans."

So what is Stavvy's end game? Well, maybe he got a preview last week when he met another Ravens superfan, Real Fan Dan – the guy who rips off his shirt in the stands and leads the R-A-V-E-N-S chant.

"I'm his looper. They sent me back to take care of him," Stavvy said. "That's what I aspire to be. I want to inherit the title. When Dan goes, we'll have a Viking funeral for him in the harbor, I'll shoot a flaming arrow into his casket and then I will become Real Fan Stavvs. But not anytime soon."

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