On a whim, 58-year-old Dan Granofsky sent in his application to be a Ravens Cheerleader last Friday.
Where it asked to input how many years of dance training received, Granofsky scribbled 20.
"I have led R-A-V-E-N-S cheers after Ravens touchdowns since 1998," wrote the man we've all come to know as "Real Fan Dan."
The next morning, Granofsky's wife called him a "nut" and gave him a kiss as he went out the door to join nearly 150 other hopefuls at the Merritt Club Downtown.
While Granofsky's training isn't quite what the judges were looking for (spoiler alert: he didn't make the squad) he and everyone involved sure had a good time with it. And trust me, Granofsky's quite content to keep his spot in the stands.
"I thought I was going to get thrown out during registration and I wouldn't have been mad," Gronofsky said with a big laugh. "I'm a 58-year-old, fat, bald-headed guy. It's OK. I'll get over it."
Many of the cheerleaders immediately recognized him. After all, they see him, shirt off (or nekkid, as he likes to say) on the RavensVision boards at every Ravens game at M&T Bank Stadium.
Granofsky's R-A-V-E-N-S cheer, and all the accompanying gags, are just another form of the same job the cheerleaders have: get everyone excited.
"I've been a cheerleader in the stands for 25 years, and I really admire the guys and gals down there," Granofsky said. "I figured I should try out and show my support and appreciation for them. I always wanted to do it, but never had the guts."
You'd think a guy who rips his shirt off in front of 70,000 fans 10 times a year wouldn't be shy. Once he arrived and was warmly welcomed by his other "competitors," who were astonished that he was really trying out, his reservations faded.
With the help of the other male stunt team tryouts, Granofsky learned how to do a "shoulder sit," which is exactly what it sounds like. He didn't attempt a "toss and extension," which is balancing a cheerleader above your head by the bottom of her foot. He also didn't do a double backflip, or floor routine, like the guy who performed right after him.
Granofsky was partnered with Allison, who sat on his right shoulder for the judges before Real Fan Dan let her down and performed his chant. The judges ate it up.
"Oh man, he was great," Entertainment & Events Coordinator Rob Tune said. "Ultimately, he's a part of the team, but in a different capacity. He's our cheerleader in the stands."
After Granofsky's first performance, Ravens Cheerleaders Director and Coach Tina Galdieri asked Real Fan Dan to come out for one more bonus performance of his chant. This time, he gave the full nekkid show before running off to a shower of high-fives.
"The whole place went nuts," Granofsky said. "It was a ball, man."
The Merritt Club Downtown was packed with more than 150 hopefuls for this year's squad. Check out the process from start to finish.