As seems to happen most years around here, the Ravens are in the playoffs, and the Redskins are not. That’s the fifth time in six seasons we’ve been confronted by such a scenario.
Many times, this prompts a small debate: should Redskins fans root for the Ravens in the playoffs? Ravens President Dick Cass, remember, talked to me this summer about his team’s increasing presence in the Washington media market:
“What we’re really trying to do is fight for young fans, and fight for new people moving into the [Baltimore-Washington] area,” Cass saud. “The Redskins have been here forever; right now their brand is stronger than our brand. They have a larger fan base than we do. We’re just fighting to grow our fan base.”
My guide to all things D.C. sports, Mr. Irrelevant, says no, ranking the Ravens near the bottom of playoff teams for Redskins Rootability.
“I’m not totally certain why I dislike the Ravens, but I think it’s probably out of jealousy,” Chris Mottram wrote.
But I have heard plenty of actual Washingtonians take the other side, using regional proximity and franchise excellence to justify some mild Ravens rooting.
That franchise has explicitly appealed to Redskins fans as an AFC alternative in recent years, and the effort continued this week.
WTOP’s Craig Heist has the definitive account, which includes this quote from Ray Lewis:
“You know how that blood is between us and them," Lewis said laughing. “Baltimore D.C., D.C. Baltimore, but I think at the end of the day when your team is out, and when they finally do settle in, they will probably cheer for the Ravens before they cheer for an outsider so we will probably have some extra fans cheering for us.”
And also this, from Joe Flacco:
“As many Redskins fans as we could steal that would be huge for us because they have a great following from what I understand. They’re on the franchises that have been around for a while and people love the Redskins so if we could steal some of their fans, I think we'd be doing a pretty good job.”
John Harbaugh, meanwhile, said the Ravens “We want to be [Redskins fans’s] AFC team, that's all we're asking.”
So, will you root for the Ravens this weekend?