This is an exposé on shirtless Real Fan Dan.
Dan Granofsky, 55, from Pasadena, Md., has been leading the R-A-V-E-N-S chant at M&T Bank Stadium since 1998. If you've gone to a game, you've probably seen him in the upper deck, Section 532, behind the Ravens bench.
During the Week 8 game against the Chargers, Real Fan Dan was once again put on RavensVision and even got a smile out of quarterback Joe Flacco.
So why is he shirtless? And how did this all start?
Born and bred in Baltimore, Real Fan Dan served 26 years in the Maryland National Guard, including 15 years of active duty. He used to go to Colts games when he was a teenager and when he could afford to do so during his 20s. He always admired The Big Wheel, Len Burrier, who used to lead the C-O-L-T-S chants at Memorial Stadium.
"The whole stadium would do it," Real Fan Dan reminisced. "It unified all the fans. When the Colts came out on defense, it was absolutely deafening."
Real Fan Dan became a Ravens season ticket holder in 1997. One of those in his group of six was Dick Peach, the father of his best friend. Peach had a bladder issue and needed to be close to the latrines, so the Ravens hooked him up with seats six rows from the bottom and near a tunnel.
That just so happened to place Real Fan Dan in the middle of a large group of fans from Ravens Roost 18 of Glen Burnie. One of the members of that group was his future wife, Robin.
"She was sitting two rows below me and four seats over," Real Fan Dan said. "I joined the club cause I figured they were a good bunch of eggs. Then this cute little blonde asked me to dance with her at the first roast after I joined the club.
"I married her and I got a son and daughter out of it, and I've got four beautiful grandkids and 125 brothers and sisters because of the Baltimore Ravens and Dick Peach's bad bladder."
So back to the cheers. One day at a game in 1998, Real Fan Dan was sitting with the Ravens Roost's president when he lamented that Big Wheel wasn't coming to the games anymore.
"Get up there and do it, you dumb @&$@#!," he was told.
So Real Fan Dan stood up and started doing the cheer, contorting his body to spell each letter. A guy in his section made signs for a living, so he helped with big letters to hold up and train the other fans in the section. Eventually, Real Fan Dan started moving along the upper concourse to spread the cheer.
It was catching on, but it needed a little something more.
"They weren't loud enough one day in 1998, so I got mad at them and started yelling at them," Real Fan Dan said.
He put his hands up to his ears as if he couldn't hear them. He gave them a thumbs down. He pinched his nose as if to tell the fans they stink. He threw his hat down in mock frustration.
Then he ripped his shirt off.
"For whatever reason, with* *my big gut hanging out, the decibels go up 100 percent," he said. "I get it."
And when you show a little skin once, the people want more.
"They play me and I know it," Real Fan Dan said with a chuckle. "They hold back on purpose on the first cheer because they want me to get nakkid."
Since 1998, the cheer's popularity has grown to the point where Real Fan Dan, in a very serious (and almost scared) voice, says he can't NOT do the cheer.
"I'll get yelled at, man," he said.
Real Fan Dan doesn't want to make it all about him though. He stresses that he's simply continuing a Baltimore football tradition started by Big Wheel. Real Fan Dan certainly has a fan in the Big Wheel.
"I think it's pretty cool," Burrier said. "If he can get the same response that I used to get, it would be great. I would love to hear that whole stadium chanting Ravens, R-A-V-E-N-S!"
Burrier's had multiple shoulder surgeries, so he can only lead cheers with his fingers now. Real Fan Dan carries the torch. But, mainly, he does it just because it's fun. Simple as that.
"That's why it's Real Fan Dan," he said. "I don't dress up. My name is Dan and I happen to be a real fan. That's what it is. If people like it and continue to join in, that would be great."