For 12 years, Baltimore didn’t have an NFL team after the Colts bolted for Indianapolis. A city starving for pro football got a new team when then-Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell moved his team to Baltimore to form the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens became the fifth bird team, joining the Cardinals, Falcons, Seahawks, and Eagles. How did the Ravens’ name get picked?
The Baltimore Ravens quickly became an elite franchise
The Baltimore Ravens have only been in existence as a franchise for 24 years. During that time, the team has won two Super Bowls and has been a consistent force in the NFL for years. They didn’t waste any time racking up wins as they won their first game in Baltimore in 1996, defeating the Oakland Raiders at Memorial Stadium.
The Ravens also struck gold in their first NFL draft. In 1996, the Ravens had a pair of first-round picks. At No. 4, they selected offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden out of UCLA. With the 26th overall pick, they took linebacker Ray Lewis out of Miami. Both had lengthy NFL careers are both are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Ravens are still going strong. They took a shot on Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson in the 2018 NFL draft. Jackson was the fifth quarterback selected in the draft and was the final pick in the first round. The decision to go with Jackson has paid off. In 2019, Jackson was named the league’s MVP after he guided the team to the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
The 2000 Baltimore Ravens had a heavy emphasis on defense
In the 2000 season, just four years after beginning as a Baltimore franchise, the Ravens won the Super Bowl. Baltimore’s record-setting defense was the key to the Ravens’ success. The Ravens allowed 970 rushing yards during the regular season, setting a record for a 16-game season.
Baltimore surrendered just five rushing touchdowns during the year and allowed 2.7 yards per rush, another league-best. In the 20 games the Ravens played during their 2000 Super Bowl run, the defense allowed just 167 points. They also recovered 26 fumbles that season, leading the league and doubling the second-place finisher.
The Ravens also intercepted 23 passes that season. The Ravens defense from that 2000 season is considered one of the all-time best. Linebacker Ray Lewis was named Defensive Player of the Year by the AP. Defensive tackle Sam Adams and safety Rod Woodson were first-time All-Pro. The Ravens went on to cruise to a 34-7 win over the New York Giants in Super Bowl 35.
Why are they called the Ravens?
According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Baltimore Ravens club executives narrowed the list of potential nicknames for the new Baltimore franchise to 17 back in 1996. The list eventually got cut down to three names – Ravens, Marauders, and Americans. The Baltimore Sun then conducted a phone-in poll, asking fans to make their final selection.
Of 33,288 voters, nearly two-thirds (21,108) decided on the Ravens. “Ravens gives us a strong nickname that is not common to teams at any level, and it gives one that means something historically to this community,” team owner Art Modell said then.
The Ravens’ name was inspired by legendary poet/writer Edgar Allen Poe, a former Baltimore resident. Poe’s popular poem, “The Raven,” was published in 1845 and made him a household name.