Here at The Sports Fan Journal, we hope to evolve and deliver something not found in any other corner of this here internet. We bring you Mark Trible and Dillon Friday's NFL Countdown project. A fan from each NFL team will be featured as we anxiously await the season's kickoff.
Someone needs to tell the fans' stories. What better place than their trusty Journal?
Without further ado, meet Baltimore Ravens fan Tami James.
Tami James is a Baltimore native, through and through. The born-and-raised product loves her Ravens and has ever since they moved to the mid-Atlantic in 1996. Although the team started slowly in its inaugural season, going 4-12, it didn’t take long for the Baltimore Ravens to be on the NFL’s biggest stage.
In Super Bowl 35, they smashed the New York Giants 34-7. It still stands as James’s favorite moment as a fan of her team.
“I remember watching the Super Bowl at home,” James recalls. “Back then, I was very superstitious. When we won, I ran through the house screaming, ‘WE WON! WE WON!’ It was really a fun time. I had to work, so I couldn’t participate in after parties, parades and other celebrations after the Super Bowl, but it didn’t diminish my excitement one single bit.”
Brian Billick coached that team, and while James had no qualms with him for most of his tenure, he eventually drew her ire toward the end of his run as Baltimore’s head man. Some people list a player as their least liked member of their teams. For James, it’s Billick.
“It was really towards the end. I just think that his ego got the best of him on the way out,” she explains. “I know it may come off as unpopular to list him as a least-liked Raven, but the opinion is mine. I hated his complacency on offense, especially during the Kyle Boller years.”
The only entity she despises more than Billick is the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cleveland and Cincinnati battled for Ohio bragging rights in the AFC North. Steelers hatred, though, is reserved for the Ravens.
“I hate the Steelers,” she says emphatically. “They’re our rival more than any other team in our division. I don’t like Steelers fans, especially Steelers fans who live in Baltimore. They make me sick.”
The longtime educator’s enthusiasm and tone quickly change when she speaks of her favorite Raven, Ed Reed. Reed was drafted by Baltimore out of The University of Miami in 2001, months after the Ravens won their first Super Bowl.
For James, future Hall-of-Fame safety can do no wrong.
“Ed Reed is my favorite Raven ever,” she states emphatically. “I wish he went out on top after the Super Bowl against the 49ers, but I wasn’t mad at him for wanting to continue to play. It doesn’t tarnish his legacy in my eyes whatsoever.”
The irony of the two Super Bowl wins is apparent in regard to how James watches the games these days as opposed to in the past. She laughs about it now, but there was a time when watching games at the house was not simply an option. It was the only option.
“I used to be ‘that’ fan. That super, superstitious fan,” she remembers with a chuckle. “I wouldn’t leave the house at all to watch the games. I wanted to be at home, in front of the TV and watching my Ravens right there.
“It’s even how I got my Twitter name, Tamsey. Not too long ago, Bud Light ran commercials with that crazy Patriots fan, Ramsey. He watched the games at home, was totally over-the-top and was all alone. People knew that’s how I was when I watched the Ravens, so they called me Tamsey.”
“Reeta,” TSFJ’s resident Ravens guru Syreeta Hubbard, “got me out of that,” James continues. “Now I watch the games with my crew. I’ll go to Purple Fridays with the crew and truly embrace as much of the experience of being a Ravens fan as possible. It was fun back then, but it is much more fun now.”
James looks forward to watching the Ravens this season. The Super Bowl win in 2013 over the 49ers is fresh on her mind, but she’s not stuck in the past. For the Ravens to get it together, it all starts up front. From the offensive line to the new Ravens offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak, she is well aware of the task at hand.
“I’m excited and anxious to see the offense with Kubiak as the new offensive coordinator,” says James. “I’m praying our line gets stronger. Well, let me take that back. I hope we get our s*** together.”
>> Be sure to catch the rest of the "Meet the Fan" series:
Kenny Masenda is a fan of the game, and an admirer of the culture. You can find more of what makes him tick at his Facebook profile located here.