With the Ravens participating in the playoffs last winter and the Redskins chillin’ at home, we were treated to the near-annual chatter about whether D.C.-area football fans could or should cheer for their Northern rivals.
“We want to be [Redskins fans’] AFC team,” Coach John Harbaugh said at the time. “That’s all we’re asking.”
It’s something Harbaugh, in particular, has said before.
“A lot of the younger generation — the kids, the high school kids, the college kids, the 20-somethings — in that area are kind of turning our way,” he said in the spring of 2011. “They’re becoming Ravens fans, and that’s exciting. And we want to appeal to that group down there. We welcome them on board, man. We can use all the fans we can get. It’s a great area, and obviously it’s Maryland, so we’d like to have them be a part of Ravens Nation.”
Well, over the weekend the Ravens practiced in Annapolis. And someone asked Harbaugh about courting D.C. fans and expanding the Ravens’ fan base. And he went there yet again.
“You’re going to get me in trouble,” he said with a laugh, according to a transcript on the team’s Web site. “It seems like most of the people here are definitely big-time Ravens fans, and it’s very encouraging to see all the fans down here. We’re in a small area — it’s a tight area. There is enough room, there are enough people to support all the teams.
“And you talk about football and baseball, the four teams. You talk about the [Washington] Wizards and Caps, who I love watching. I’d like to see all the fans in Washington [D.C.], southern Maryland, northern Virginia. Let us be your AFC team, and you can be our NFC team, except I am always going to kind of be with the Eagles myself. But, we can be fans of more than one team. It’s a great sports area, and the Ravens are a big part of that.”
Is this realistic? Maybe yes, maybe no.
“Harbaugh surely knows that real fans aren’t fans of more than one team, at least not in the passionate, buy the jersey, set aside Sundays to watch, yell at the television way,” CSN Baltimore’s Ray Frager wrote. “You can have a backup team you root for, but for a fan in the traditional Redskins sphere of influence, choosing the Ravens would mean dumping the Skins.”
“I will say this: the Ravens are year-in and year-out a very good team, and have been more successful than the Redskins in recent years,” Redskins.com’s Andrew Walker wrote. “That alone might make some fans jump off the Redskins’ bandwagon and onto the Ravens’. But I also didn’t see the Redskins packing up and leaving in the middle of the night — and alienating their fan base — at any point, either.”
On the other hand, I’m guessing Ted Leonsis supports Harbaugh’s theory.
“We have two great baseball teams now in the DMV,” the owner wrote this week. “The Nationals and Orioles are the most improved teams in baseball. Two fantastic NFL franchises too.”