The Caw: All Hands On Deck Shoveling

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The players aren't the only sore ones after Sunday's game.

Those in the Ravens grounds crew and marketing department have some sore backs, thighs and knees this morning.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the laundry crew that had one heck of a job after the Chicago mud bowl. This time, it was the snow bowl and the heroic shovelers.

Strangely enough, Sunday was the first time it was ever snowing at kickoff in Ravens history.

So the stadium and grounds crews at M&T Bank Stadium had never dealt with something like they had Sunday when a snowstorm blanketed the field in no time flat. That led to some interesting scenes.

The Ravens stay very on top of forecasts through the week. The timing of the snow that hit M&T Bank Stadium was just as they expected, but the storm was stronger than expected. The forecast said it would quickly turn from snow to freezing rain and then just rain. That didn't happen until after halftime.

"As far as the accumulation was concerned, that was a little off. It said up to an inch and we got a little over three inches here," Vice President of Stadium Operations Roy Sommerhof said. "I looked up and I could barely see the top of the upper deck. The intensity was much greater."

There is a massive set of coils under M&T Bank Stadium's artificial turf that heats the surface to about 39 degrees, usually warm enough to handle most snow while keeping the playing surface in tip-top shape.

"At first we thought the field heating system would be able to handle it," Sommerhof said. "And then it started snowing harder and harder and harder. Right before kickoff we were like, 'Whoa, we need to get some more equipment out here.'"

Early on, the stadium operations crew called for all the Ravens Walk interns to come inside the stadium after they were done and grab a shovel. That's a group of 12 people, including Tight Ends Coach Wade Harman's daughter, Madison Harman.

After the first quarter, with the snow coming down in sheets, an all-hands-on-deck call went out. Seven more people from the marketing department jumped into the snow.In total, there were 25 to 30 people working on plowing the field.

Their job was to shovel as many lines on the field as possible during breaks. So whenever there were commercials, they all ran out and got to work until a voice in their headsets told them to scamper off.

Two of the helpers made it on TV, including one on "SportsCenter."

Marketing Manager Laura Humphreys and Events and Game Presentation Assistant Rob Tune were shoveling around the 30-yard line when Vikings kicker Blair Walsh called them over.

"Hey Shovel Boy!" Walsh called. (He seriously called him that. Tune said he didn't seem happy to be kicking in such conditions.)

Humphreys and Tune didn't have to help the opposition, but in the middle of the fray, they did.

Walsh started giving them instructions on what he wanted shoveled around the ball before he kicked off. His directions were pretty confusing, as he wanted them to shovel exactly what his path would be to the ball.

"Just show me where you need us to shovel!" Humphreys said to him. "I wish I was thinking more on my feet though because I would have just handed him the shovel."

Humphreys and Tune frantically tried to clear the way for Walsh as much as they could, being good sports about the whole thing.

Humphreys, by the way, was wearing a long sweater, jacket, leggings and some new nice boots. No, they weren't winter boots, which is why she slips while shoveling in the GIF below (mobile users tap "View in Browser" at the top of the screen.)

Tune made the smart choice of changing from dress shoes to boots after the first quarter. But he was by no means winterized.

"I was rocking dress pants the whole time," he said. "Paper-thin dress pants the whole game."

Humphreys and Tune definitely did a better job of clearing snow than Walsh's holder.

The entire crew got most of the field cleared by halftime and the pace of the game picked up. They all did an incredible job in crazy circumstances. Talk about "other duties as assigned."

Head Coach John Harbaugh and the players talked about the improved conditions in the second half, which helped them pick up the pace of the game and mount a series of comebacks. So all that work wasn't for nothing.

"Besides the Super Bowl, it was probably the most memorable game I've had," Humphreys said. "It was really fun to be honest – especially because we won."

Let's hope all these shovelers get somebody else to plow their driveway today.

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